Overcoming Small and Large Part CNC Machining Problems
In CNC machining, we use high-speed computer-controlled cutting tools in removing material from a workpiece. Since it is an automated process, our product expert can confidently set and forget it. It allows us to receive precise and repeatable parts every time. In addition, it is highly cost-effective and is compatible with a diverse array of materials. This gives our team of product experts a high degree of creative flexibility. Due to these numerous pros, you may think the possibilities are endless. However, there are a few features to consider depending on the part size. Here is further insight into the challenges we encounter when machining very large and very small and how we overcome them.
What Are the Key Considerations in CNC Machining?
Regardless of the part size, there two key CNC machining factors that our experts at Creatingway keep in mind. These are tool geometry and tool access. CNC cutting tools like mill tools and drills are cylindrical and have a limited cutting length. We often transfer the geometry of the tool to the machined part during the machining process. As a result, the internal corners of CNC machined parts end up having a radius similar to the cylindrical tool. This is still the case for small tools. Our experts have to keep this in mind to avoid sharp internal corners in the designs. If the sharp corner is inevitable, there are luckily a few workarounds.
Another key factor in the CNC machining process is tool access. Often the cutting tool approaches the workpiece from above. Therefore, any part that is difficult to access from above may be tasked to the machine. The only exception to this rule is undercutting but they may not be the most appropriate for every use. Our experts strive to align all of the features in the master pattern to one of the six main directions. We can also use a 5-axis CNC machine to unlock the advanced part holding capabilities.
One other multi-purpose CNC design practices include putting key features on the same side of the part to lower setups. We also try to avoid deep features and use softer material since harder material takes longer. Keeping the design simple is another important practice. These practices are vital to designing for manufacturability and creating functional parts. They are also faster, less costly, and easier to manufacture. Once we achieve this, we can shift our attention to special practices for small-part and large-part machining.
What Are the Key Workarounds in Large-Part CNC Machining?
The two main problems we face in large part CNC machining is that they are too heavy or too large to fit in the travel dimensions. CNC machines often have a weight limit and large parts need larger than normal work zones. They also need a greater reach for the tool to access all dimensions. Luckily, there an array of workarounds that aid in alleviating this issue.
Anticipating the weight challenges in the design stage is the first step. We can then opt to break up the part into subassemblies that will not exceed the CNC machine’s weight limit. It, however, adds time to the production process and some assemblies may still be too heavy. If the need arises, we can support heavier parts using outrigger stands to ease the load and evenly distribute it. During the actual machining process, we can account for the travel dimensions in some ways. This includes angling the part so that its features line up with the machine’s travel path. It can then fit better within the available space.
Additionally, we can use a sliding feature to drill holes in long rectangular parts. We can also use a sliding 4th axis fixture to aid in drilling holes in large tubing. Spinning large rounds is another practice that allows every feature to fit within the work envelope. Finally, we can spin and slide the part to extend both the X and Y axes.
What Are the Key Workarounds in Small-part CNC Machining?
Despite small CNC machined parts being lighter and easier to work with, it is tasking to deal with custom machined ones. They are technically more difficult to make and to ensure top-notch quality. Our product teams can only perform an accurate assessment if they can see what they are working with. Features that are smaller than 0.005” are tricky to see with the naked eye. They also need special tooling.
Luckily, we only have to make minor adjustments to overcome these challenges. The part remains to be viable for CNC machining as long as we optimize the design for manufacturability. To enable proper inspection of small parts, we can use a 3D microscope to zoom in on features and surface finishes. In addition, we only use high RPM tools when producing small CNC machined parts. This allows us to use smaller drills and effectively get into every corner of the part. For large part and small part CNC machining, you can benefit from the expertise we offer at Creatingway. Simply contact us.
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