Manufacturing processes in the automotive industry have evolved continuously over the decades. In recent years, we have seen advances in design software and manufacturing processes like robotics, which have led to improvements in vehicle design and performance. One technology that is currently playing an integral role in the transformation of the automotive industry is CNC machining.
CNC machining is a computer-controlled manufacturing process that can create highly accurate parts from a wide range of plastics and metals. It basically works like this: once a digital model has been designed, it is turned into machine instructions. Those instructions are then sent to the CNC machine, and the relevant tools like drills or lathes cut a block of raw material until the design has been created. CNC machines are available in a broad range of configurations, like three-axis and five-axis, so they are capable of varying degrees of complexity.
The Three Key Advantages Of CNC Machining
The three main advantages of using CNC machines in the automotive industry are production speed, accuracy and repeatability.
CNC machines provide rapid production times when compared to traditional vehicle manufacturing machines. That is largely due to the fact that CNC machines are automated. There is no need for lengthy manual machining and steps can be taken to speed up and optimise CNC machines’ run time. So, not only do CNC machines enable faster production. They also allow operations to become more streamlined. Couple the rapid production with CNC machines’ ability to create highly precise parts, and it is clear to see why the automotive industry is embracing CNC machines so much. Quite simply, complex vehicle parts can be produced quickly, and CNC machining can meet the necessary tolerances for functional components. And because CNC machining is a computer-controlled process, it brings with it a guarantee of being able to repeat the same quality parts again and again. Consistency is crucial for the automotive industry, and CNC machining makes sure each batch of parts is exactly the same each time.
Prototyping And Production Applications
The automotive industry uses CNC machines, like the broad range available from RevelationMachinery, for both prototyping and production applications. All manner of metal and plastic parts can be produced for prototypes or finished products. For example, headlight covers can be quickly prototyped or produced using CNC machining with clear acrylic materials. Other vehicle elements that can be rapidly and precisely produced via CNC machining includes:
- Interior Dashboard Panels. Using CNC machines to manufacture dashboards from raw blocks of material ensures cut-outs for things like the fuel gauge and speedometer perfectly align when they are installed.
- Starter Motors. The accuracy and complexity provided by CNC machines allow starter motors to be optimised and improved for durability, reliability, and performance.
- Drive Axles. The crucial parts of drive axles that enable wheel assembly to move accordingly and to pivot when a vehicle is turning include hypoid and bevel gears that can easily be produced with CNC machines.
CNC Machining Is Also Ideal For Producing Custom Parts
Due to the accuracy and complexity of CNC machining, it is the ideal manufacturing process to produce customised components. For example, vintage cars are becoming ever more popular, but it has always been difficult to produce some replacement parts. Along with 3D printing, CNC machining has made it possible to create rare replacement parts as easily as it is to produce any standard modern parts. So, the automotive industry is utilising CNC machining to create one-off parts that would otherwise be obsolete.