With so many new great things that have been happening with 3D printing in metal and plastic, we’ve decided to pay homage to the more traditional CNC machining techniques and tools. After all, it is still the most common method that is used in the modern world and we are sure CNC milling company will be around for a long time to come. In no particular order, we’ll touch on some history and the machining techniques that make our top list.
This is by far the oldest process we know of and has been recognized in many ancient civilizations. Of course, they would use cord made of twine or leather to turn an instrument back and forth until the surface was shaved or sanded into whatever shape they desired. The first know fully rotating wheel device dates back to 1568 which were in active use in Europe. These days turning is done by CNC milling company or machine centres which can rotate the workpiece on multiple axes. Turning is known for and great for removing large amounts of material quickly. This comes a risk factor -it must only be used by a professional that will always make sure that no loose clothing can get pulled into the machine which can lead to serious consequences.
Any time you attempt to cut through hard steel it can prove to be a challenge. This usually requires cutter heads that are expensive and wear out quickly so you need to replace them all the time. The best alternative to this is wire EDM which uses thread made of wire as an electrode. As the surface is constantly being eroded, the wire must be continuously fed through rollers. Wire EDM is great at cutting through thick and hard steel which is most commonly used to make samples or other tools.
Grinding will give you a very flat surface which is needed in many productions and applications. It is basically a spinning disk which is covered with something abrasive. Of course, this abrasive material will change depending on what material you want to be ground. Heat and mechanical stress can be an issue with this process so it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature. This is still the best way to make the smoothest and flattest surface.
As we all know optical grinding is a very high precision computer controlled application used to manufacture optics from glass. The first know spectacles we know of date back all the way to 1280 in Italy. Isaac Newton even wrote about spectacles and the grinding of lenses in 1666. Of course, the quality was not that of today’s standard. Special machines these days grind the curved surfaces of the glass for great precision. While 3D printing can be used, it is important to take note that it cannot complete the entire process and there will always be some part that requires a CNC process. 3D printing is good at creating complex shapes but the precision is not nearly as good as traditional machining.
Another classic when it comes to machine operations, what made this machine revolutionary, was that the material is held in place while the cutting tool is rotated. This gave companies and manufacturers room for many different types of applications, especially when working on pieces that are awkward or not a universal shape. Lubrication is important when it comes to this process for three main reasons which include the cool the machine and the material, to improve surface finish and carry away any leftover materials.
In 1774, John Wilkinson invented a machine that supported a cylinder at both ends. This made production of cylinder accurate and faster which increased availability which was particularly good for combustion engines of the time. Most people consider Wilkinson’s boring machine to be the first modern machining tool. It made him a very wealthy man and drove his obsession with all things iron. There are five main types of cylindrical grinding that include the inside diameter, outside diameter, plunge, creep, and centreless grinding. This type of machinery guarantees high precision and an excellent finished piece.