Tips on How to Achieve Tighter CNC Machining Tolerances
In manufacturing, some degree of variation is inevitable. This is both between individual units and jobs. By bearing this in mind, our product teams are still able to come up with ways of ensuring parts function as intended. This is regardless of the minor variations present between individual parts. We refer to these ranges of acceptable variation as tolerances. Most manufactured parts have a margin of error. We often define them as a measurement range. Tolerances may also include other factors like texture, color, shape, or profile. Attending machining tolerances may sometimes seem like a minor step in the manufacturing process. It is, however, a vital step when producing repeatable parts. Here is further insight into the tips we follow to achieve tighter CNC machining tolerances.
In CNC machining, proper tolerancing is vital since tighter tolerances add to the cost of production. For example, producing a part with a particular tolerance and shape requires several cutting operations. We also use different tools which leads to more time on the machine as well as higher costs. Some design features and shapes are quite tasking to achieve through CNC machining. Examples include sharp internal corners or parts we make with longer cutting tools. This raises the cost of achieving tighter tolerances if we cannot optimize them out. Though tighter tolerances will be more costly, we can account for them or offset them during the production process.
Below Is How We Cost-effectively Achieve Tight CNC Tolerances
Optimize Part Tolerances for Each Application
Standard Machining tolerances are +/- 0.10” for plastic parts and +/-0.005” for metal parts. Some parts may need even fewer deviations to ensure a proper fit. Tight tolerance ends up being a necessary cost for a specific part application. It is thus best to limit tight tolerances to the necessary surfaces or areas of a part. This helps meet the design criteria while mitigating extra expenses. However, if tolerances for a part do not need to be very tight, then opting for the standard is a simple way of lowering costs and machining times.
Efficiently Matching Manufacturing Methods
One thing to consider when working with tight tolerance is fitting the manufacturing process correctly. For example, using a vertical mill to machine a hole along with a set of tolerances, has special considerations. We first have to bore a hole with tighter tolerances using a CNC lathe. This raises the set-up cost and extends the production timeline. Parts with tight-fit or snug tolerance needs may require extra steps. This helps ensure each part achieves the desired finish and fit. Examples of these extra steps include lapping and grinding.
Do not Ignore Parallelism and Perpendicular
These refer to two vital tolerances that we have to prioritize. This is especially the case when working with multiple components. They are especially vital for assemblies as even a slight degree of change leads to even greater misalignment. This may impact the overall quality and viability of the part.
Matching Tolerance Expectations with Material Machinability
We often design parts from specific materials to offer specific physical, chemical, or performance features. However, we also have to account for how those features affect the workpiece machinability. For instance, it is easier to mill plastics than to machine hardened steel. Usually, the softer the material, the harder it is for the material to hold a tight tolerance. Resins and soft silicones are prone to flexing during cutting operations. Meanwhile, plastics such as nylon may need extra tooling to achieve specific tolerances.
Coming up with Designs with the Final Inspection Process in Mind
It is difficult to measure a part’s tolerance, the more complex a feature gets. In some cases, you may need a special tool to correctly measure certain features. Smaller parts or those with tiny features are also more taskings to create and inspect. Usually, features that are smaller than 0.005” are tricky to see with the naked eye. If there is a need for tight tolerances in such a case, you must have the right tools to accurately measure, inspect and verify those tolerances. Ideally, you can only be sure of tight tolerances if you have the correct tools to measure them.
Pros of Proper Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing Yields
Ensuring your parts can hold the desired tolerances requires proper material selection, part design, and production process. Cost-effectively achieving tight tolerances can be tasking owing to a number of variables. We also have to consider an array of environmental and mechanical factors that are in play during production. Luckily, pairing it up with an on-demand manufacturing partner like Creatingway simplifies the entire process. Our team of experts is well adept at an array of machining methods and optimization processes. We strive to ensure the in-house machined parts achieve tight, accurate tolerances every time. You can visit our resource center to gain extensive insight into the specifics of CNC machining. You can also explore further our capabilities and find out how we can best satisfy your needs. If you have any inquiries or quotes, kindly contact us today and we will get right back to you promptly.
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