The manufacturing of modern equipment and components requires high precision and accuracy. It also requires the component to be durable and reliable, of unwavering quality. The modern methods of manufacturing employed by the industry are called CNC Machining and Fused Deposition Modelling. These technologies have their benefits and shortfalls. In this article, we are going to discuss both of these manufacturing methods.
CNC machining was first used commercially in 1952 and has been the most commonly used process for manufacturing. On the other hand, fused deposition technology is relatively newer, and was developed in 1988.
The term “CNC” is the abbreviation for computer numerical control, which is the automated control of machining tools by a computer. The CNC machining has made the 3-dimensional cutting tasks a walk in the park for manufacturers.
CNC machines are composed of automated maneuverable tools and an automated maneuverable platform such as CNC burn tables. Both of these are controlled by a computer that is programmed with G-Code And M-Code.
The programming language provides the software with all the essential information and instruction to execute the job. The G-code has the commands for the various behaviors of a corresponding machine, such as speed, feed rate, and coordination.
In short, CNC machining makes it possible to program the speed and position of machine tool functions so they can be run using the software in countless iterations while keeping the human interference at a minimum. These functionalities have made CNC machining the go-to method for manufacturing metal and plastic products.
Benefits of CNC Machining
The benefits of CNC machining are numerous and they can be discussed in detail so a potential buyer can have a better understanding.
CNC machines provide the highest degree of precision in the product. It can replicate the design template to the accuracy of 1/1000th of a unit.
They are known to be highly reliable and can work all day round to ensure there is no interruption in the production line. The frequency of maintenance is also lesser than other methods.
CNC machining can help your business to increase its production capacity because a single machine can perform different cutting and drilling tasks simultaneously, thus streamlining the process of manufacturing for you. The scalability of your business increases and you can capitalize on profits while saving capital on production.
The CNC machines provide the best quality finish to your product and this is due to the use of computer-aided design software. The software provides the machine with a digital blueprint of dimensions and other characteristics. Even the most skilled engineers and Skillman cannot reproduce the same quality product on manual machines.
Other than that the CNC machines are easier to work at and they can archive previous designs which can help companies to reproduce components that are no longer available even if the master file is lost.
Fused Deposition Modelling
FDM uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material. It adds layers upon layers of this material and constructs the component. The printer head melts the spool and deposits a layer by moving in two directions e.g horizontal and vertical.
The nozzles in the head can be customized according to the amount of precision required. The printer will use an STL file to create a mathematically sliced model and orientations are to be produced. The model can also be produced with the support structure to provide its integrity while the material solidifies. To ensure that the process leads to successful bonding of the material, the control of the surrounding environment is necessary and to do this the printers use a special chamber. The temperature inside it is just below the melting point of the printing material.
The nozzles and header stop extruding when a plane is complete to avoid stringing and dribbling due to extra material.
Benefits Of FDM
The speed at which FDM technology can produce a finished product is astonishing. You can get a complete model in a matter of minutes. Although some models can take a couple of hours it is not a deal-breaker since you have the printer in-house.
The FDM printers heat the thermoplastic filament and extract the layers to form a model. This process can be accurate up to 0.005 inches.
The cost of setting up a 3D printer is minimal and it can save you the headache of sourcing small components from some other place. The printers are small in size so you do not have to worry about finding a dedicated space to house them.
These machines are easy to use. All you need is the raw material and a CAD file to feed. And then your product is only a click away. The models can be scaled according to your need without losing detail so you can make models for presentations or sales prototypes.
What Should You Get
Your decision will be based on multiple factors. The first being what is the scale of production you want for your business. If you are a medium to large scale manufacturer and you need to produce 250-500 parts then you should choose CNC machining.
On the other hand, if you are a small startup or a business that is experimenting and producing prototypes then you should choose an FDM 3D printer to get the job done. 3D printers are best for small-scale production. They can quickly produce a finished product. Plus you can produce highly complex and geometric models in a 3D printer.
CNC Machining is best for producing components that have better mechanical properties. A CNC machine can help you achieve scalability because it can produce in large quantities. It is used for machining metals and other materials that cannot be produced on other technologies.
CNC machines have their limitations such as limited complexity in geometrics. The machine is not able to access all the surfaces of the component. Accessing these surfaces requires repositioning of the component which will increase the time of production and increase the cost of the component.
This comparison can help you make your decision and find the best possible solution for your manufacturing needs.