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Categories
CNC Machining

When to Use CNC Milling

What Is the Metal Fabrication Process?

Metal fabrication is the process of cutting, forming, and assembling metals to create structures or individual parts. The cutting process involves using tools to remove material from the workpiece and can be done either manually or with a machine.

Welding joins two pieces of metal together and can be done using various methods such as oxyfuel welding, tungsten arc welding, and resistance welding.

CNC milling is a machining process that uses computer-controlled cutting tools to remove material from the workpiece. The metal fabrication process includes additional steps such as surface finishing, heat treatment, and assembly.

The following is a brief description of various metal fabrication processes and a more in-depth look at when to use CNC milling.

Contact Elemet Manufacturing to learn more about the wide range of metal fabrication services available, including precision waterjet cutting, welding, and CNC machining.

Cutting

Metal cutting is a manufacturing technique that uses a sharp tool to remove material from a metal workpiece. You can use this method to create everything from simple objects like coins to complex pieces like car engine components.

In most cases, the metal workpiece is a sheet that is first cut into smaller pieces using a saw or laser cutter.

Once you have cut out the desired shape, the parts are welded or fastened together to create the final product. Metal cutting is an essential manufacturing technique used in many industries.

Folding

Folding requires shaping a metal surface at a specific angle. It is one of the most challenging methods of fabricating metal components. It is a technique unique from metal bending and limited by geometry and tonnage.

Intricate, acute bends are often not possible as the folding beam has to be able to reach the bend without running into other surfaces on the component. When a folding machine cannot exert enough force, that is when a press brake comes into play.

Metal folding is frequently used in the manufacturing of automotive parts, food packaging, and appliances. It is an efficient and cost-effective way to create strong and durable products.

Welding

Welding is a metal fabrication process that involves joining metal parts together by heating the materials to their melting point, which fuses them when cooled. Several different welding methods include laser welding, TIG welding, MIG welding, and stick welding.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for a particular project will depend on the material selection, the desired strength of the joint, and the budget. 

Machining

Factory Asian male worker

Machining involves removing material from a workpiece to create the desired shape or finish and is performed using various tools, including lathes, mills, and routers. Machining is generally divided into two categories: subtractive and additive.

In subtractive machining, material is removed from the workpiece, while additive machining, on the other hand, involves using 3D printing technology to build up the desired shape layer by layer. 

Punching

This method uses a drill to punch holes in metal placed beneath a die by drilling through it. The circumference of the drill must be small enough to fit appropriately through the die for the punch to be effective.

The scrap slug produced as a result of the operation may be thrown away or recycled. Slugging is another name for stopping short of punching through the metal when making things out of metal.

Shearing

Shearing is when sheet metal is cut into pieces using power-driven blades. It is commonly used to cut metal plates, sheet metal, or metal tubing. Shearing is a quick and efficient way to produce parts with a high degree of accuracy.

However, it can also produce burrs and sharp edges, which you must remove before having a usable piece. Metal shearing is an important process in many industries, including automotive, aerospace, and construction.

Stamping

The metal stamping process is a manufacturing method that uses dies to form complex parts from sheet metal. In contrast to punching, the goal is typically to form a shape in the metal and not punch through it.

The process can produce varied shapes and sizes and is well suited for mass production. The metal stamping process is an efficient way to create parts with complex shapes from sheet metal.

Casting

Casting is a process in which you heat metal until it liquefies and pours it into a mold. The metal takes the shape of the mold as it cools, and once it has cooled completely, you break the mold to reveal the finished product.

Casting is often used to create metal objects with complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible to create using other metal manufacturing methods. You can also use casting to produce large metal objects relatively quickly.

What is CNC Milling?

CNC milling technology

CNC (computer numerical control) milling gradually removes material from the workpiece using rotating multi-point cutting tools and digital controls. This technique creates a specific part or product tailored to the customer’s specifications.

This method can machine many materials, including metal, plastic, glass, and wood, and create a vast range of goods and parts with unique designs.

CNC milling, drilling, turning, and others are mechanical processes in which material is removed from the workpiece mechanically, such as by the actions of the milling machine’s cutting blades. CNC milling technology is one of the most dependable ways to make parts from various materials.

Benefits of CNC Milling

The most notable benefits of utilizing CNC milling technology are outlined below.

Precision

Manufacturing parts precisely to specifications is one of the main benefits of using CNC milling machines. The danger of real-time human error, common in manually run machines, is eliminated by CNC mills. 

CNC mills depend on pre-programmed computer instructions, which can be reviewed and checked for accuracy before production. You can form complex pieces accurately with tolerances as tight as 0.004mm.

Efficiency

Conventional milling machines may require an operator to change the cutting tools manually depending on the work required. It is time-consuming and ineffective because it allows for human error during the changeover procedure.

On standard CNC mills, rotating carousels can usually store up to 30 different tools. These instruments are automatically replaced on the spindle during machining operations, allowing you to complete cutting activities more quickly and accurately.

Automated tool changeovers and pre-programmed instructions can reduce fabrication time from days to a few short hours.

Wide Range of Material Options

CNC mills are compatible with many materials, including plastics, metals, and composites. If you have blocks of the material to mill, CNC mills will have no trouble with it.

High Rate of Production

Because CNC milling is an automated operation, the cutting tool can transition through procedure steps more quickly than humans. The actual cutting rates are limited by the design and materials used. It still creates a higher output rate than most other manufacturing methods.

Affordability

CNC milling is an accuracy- and speed-oriented technique that you can use to produce parts with complex shapes. It is also relatively affordable, making it a popular choice for both prototyping and low-volume production runs.

When choosing a CNC milling service, it is important to consider the accuracy and speed requirements of the project, as well as the cost. By carefully selecting the right CNC milling service provider, it is possible to produce high-quality parts at a reasonable price.

Choose the Right Method for Your Project

Metal fabrication requires sophisticated tools and expertise. Elemet Manufacturing has developed expertise in many metal fabrication techniques for various commercial and industrial applications.

Call us today if you need more information about a specific metal fabrication method or want to know which one is appropriate for your project.