Image Credit: Lovejoy Chaplet Corporation | EF Precision Group (The) | Swissomation, Inc.
Production machining services provide high-volume production runs of parts and perform a variety of machining services. Companies that lack the equipment or means to produce large quantities of a specific part can utilize production machining services to save time and money.
Assessing the capabilities of different production machining services is the most important factor in the selection process.
The capabilities of a production machining service company are largely dependent on the types of machining the supplier can perform. Typical production machining services include:
Broaching is a planing or shaping process that involves using a cutting tool to remove material and shape a hole or outside surface of a part.
Drilling may encompass a number of different methods used to drill holes in parts.
Grinding incorporates a broad range of processes that use abrasive wheels to machine and shape parts.
Honing uses abrasive stones or silicon-carbide slips that move in both rotational and axial directions to obtain a specified finish or dimensional tolerance.
High speed production honing. Video Credit: Degen Maschinenbau GmbH
Milling is a versatile machining process that can perform many different types of cuts on a workpiece.
- Turning describes machining processes performed on a lathe, where a cutting tool is applied parallel to a workpiece being rotated continuously.
Other, more specialized processes include:
- Abrasive flow machining
- Abrasive jet machining
- Electrochemical and photochemical machining
- Electrode and wire electrical discharge machining (EDM)
- Etching and chemical milling
Production Machining Equipment
While most types of machines can be automated for production machining (either mechanically via cameras or computer control via CNC), there are a number of pieces of equipment used exclusively in high volume machining processes.
CNC lathes are lathes that utilize computer numeric control to automate the turning or boring machining process for faster, more consistent part production.
CNC lathe. Video Credit: Techberth Mechanical Engineering
Hydromats or rotary transfer machines are used to machine and produce very high volumes of parts. Tools on rotary transfer machines are typically in a spindle, and the workpieces rotate from spindle to spindle for different cutting operations. Outputs typically range above 100,000 parts per order.
Image Credit: Hydromat, Inc.
Screw machines are automatic lathes that use a turning process to manufacturing small- to medium-sized parts in high volumes.
Swiss screw machines are types of screw machines used for the high-volume production of precision components.
In addition to the types of machining services and equipment, it may be important for suppliers to specifically offer either CNC or micro machining services.
Computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines are those that use a computer to automate and control the machining process. Often this allows part designs to be uploaded via AutoCAD drawings. Once configured and programmed, CNC machines can typically run for long periods of time with minimal operator assistance. CNC machines cost more than traditional machines, but part production is faster and more precise and repeatable.
Micro machining is the machining of tiny parts and features with small tools and precision machines.
Machining services may only be able to handle certain types of materials depending on the capabilities of the equipment and the intrinsic properties of the machining services. For example, most standard milling machines and lathes could not adequately handle metals with high hardness without excessive wear of the cutting tools. Temperature-sensitive materials would also limit the applications of many standard machining processes which generate high heat from friction. Therefore, it is important to find a production machining service that specifies its ability to handle the material(s) required for the application. Commonly serviced materials include:
Once all of the service criteria for part production have been met, factors such as cost and location need to be added to the equation.
The cost of a service is important to consider in any application. Quotes (cost estimates) for part production orders are given to the customer after he or she provides the supplier with a description of the job requirements. Cost typically correlates to the time spent producing the product and the expense of the materials used (when purchased by the service company). Additional costs include transportation or shipment costs of the parts once they have been made.
The location of the service provider is important to consider both for logistical reasons and expenses. Operations located farther away from the customer will have higher associated shipping costs, especially for large production volumes. In addition, there may be additional logistical complications when dealing with suppliers from different countries.
Related Products & Services
Centerless Grinding Services
Centerless grinding services perform a machining operation in which an abrasive wheel grinds metal from a bar surface while a regulating wheel forces the bar against the grinding wheel.
CNC Machining Services
CNC machining services use fast, repeatable, and programmable machines which can function while unattended in order to manufacture parts quickly and efficiently.
EDM Machining Services
EDM machining services remove metal by burning instead of cutting or grinding. There are three basic types of electro discharge machining (EDM) operations: electrode EDM, wire EDM, and small-hole EDM.
Lapping services uses a free abrasive machining process, which produces finished components without introducing stresses and heat damage associated with other processes.
Laser Machining Services
Laser machining services use computer-controlled lasers to perform a variety of material removal processes. These lasers can be positioned and controlled with a high degree of accuracy, allowing for a variety of effects to be achieved.
Precision Grinding Services
Precision grinding services perform operations such as centerless grinding, creep feed grinding, double-disc grinding, internal grinding, external grinding, jig grinding, surface grinding, and thread grinding.
Waterjet and Abrasive Jet Cutting Services
Waterjet and abrasive jet cutting services use high-pressure media to cut materials.