Precision machining is a type of manufacturing that creates parts with tight tolerances and a high degree of accuracy. This level of precision is essential in the production of pharmaceuticals, machinery parts, and different components of the aerospace industry.
To produce finished products, the unwanted material is removed from the workpiece by a precision machining process. This method creates high-quality products with exact specifications and tight tolerances. Precision machining can be used in the manufacturing sector for making products of different materials like metal, plastic, copper, exotic alloys, titanium, ceramics, glass, bronze, stainless steel, etc.
Depending upon the requirement, different combinations of tools can be used to produce the finished product. To produce a large number of products with accuracy, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines are used for precision machining.
For the aerospace and aviation industry, it is vital to ensure the quality standards of the parts to avoid any kind of failure during the flight. Even a single part of low quality can cost the disaster of the whole aircraft, so it is required to ensure the quality of all the mechanical parts of the aircraft.
In aerospace applications, the different parts having higher strength and less weight are made by the precision machining process. This process is also promising for the production of mechanical parts having complex shapes and tight tolerances. CNC precision machining is used in the aerospace industry to produce cost-effective complex shape parts with safer production methods. There are several suppliers for precision machining that provides the facility to produce high-quality products using CNC precision machining.
Challenges associated with Precision Machining Aerospace parts
Making aerospace components is not as simple as someone thinks. Different challenges are faced, during the manufacturing of aerospace components using precision machining, like machining large components with thin walls, dealing with complex parts geometries, and High mix low-quantity production.
1) Tight tolerances
Aircraft are made of millions of small parts. These small parts are manufactured separately by using different machining processes and then assembled for the proper function. For the proper functioning of the aircraft, all of the parts are required to be made with tight tolerances.
The parts required with tighter tolerances are difficult to manufacture and expensive. In some cases, the overall cost may be justified with the use of tighter tolerances of the parts. For instance, in the case of tighter tolerances in the case of engines of airplanes, the requirement of the piston rings may be eliminated without affecting the proper working of the engine. To produce high-quality products with tight tolerances, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines are used.
Even though the tight tolerances cost more for the production of the parts but in the aerospace industry the factor of safety is important to be considered. In aircraft manufacturing, it is imperative to use precision machining for the production of different parts of the engine, Avionics, Sensors, Airframes, Connectors, and Seating.
The choice of CNC machining also depends upon the type of tolerance you require for the product. The parts can be made by precision machining with tight tolerances of ±0.0001’’.
2) Working with difficult materials
The selection of the right material for manufacturing aircraft components is one of the important concerns in precision machining. Several parts are made of different materials and require different machining processes depending upon their properties. In the field of Aerospace, it is desired to make parts of lightweight and higher strength & durability.
Aluminum is one of the most easily available materials on earth and aluminum alloys are mostly used in aerospace applications because of their machinability and malleability. In other cases where higher strength is desired even with the increase in weight, in those cases, stainless steel, titanium, high-stress alloys, and carbon are used in aerospace and aircraft applications.
Another problem with materials in the aerospace industry is that there are different materials used for manufacturing parts in aerospace applications like aluminum, carbide, titanium, steels, ceramics, and other alloys. So, to make high-quality products with high tight tolerances, the expert CNC operator is required to handle the different materials. Experienced staff can easily machine and shape different materials.
3) Working with complex design
The complex nature of the parts of aircraft is the main concern in manufacturing. To reduce the weight and increase the strength of the parts, the complexity of the design increases the cost and time required for manufacturing. It will require an expert machinist to operate the machine and produce parts having complex geometries.
In some cases, design complexity is unnecessary and can be avoided to reduce cost and time. For instance, in the case of internal components, the airflow will not be affected by the inner geometry of the part so in that case we are not required to make the special curved surfaces inside the parts.
There are also some limitations in the selection of CNC machines for manufacturing aircraft parts. There are millions of parts in the aircraft which includes small as well as large parts. In both cases, CNC selection will be different depending upon the size of the parts. The product can also be made cost-effective by changing the manufacturing process according to available machining facilities.
In some cases, it is hard to avoid the complex geometries in the aerospace components so in that case 5-axis CNC machines are preferred for the manufacturing of parts.
To summarize, in the aerospace industry all the components of aircraft are required to meet all the quality standards for their proper functioning. The parts can be made by different processes and of different materials depending upon their requirement. Also, different tools are selected according to the material used for the manufacturing of the components. There are a lot of challenges that are faced during the manufacturing process like handling different materials, complex geometries of the parts, and tight tolerances.
To rectify these problems, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines are preferred for the manufacturing of different aerospace components. Using precision machining processes, CNC machines are capable of producing components of complex geometries with high quality and higher production rates.