CNC machinery is used across a range of industries, and automakers are especially well positioned to take advantage of what this type of technology has to offer.
To explain just how close the relationship between CNC machining and vehicle manufacturing is, here is a look at the ways in which the form is used to enhance the latter today.
Brief intro to CNC tech
Before diving into this topic, it is worth establishing exactly what CNC machining means and why it is preferable to older manufacturing technologies.
Simply put, it introduces a degree of automation to the production process, with software and hardware working in unison to bring designs to life, without needing skilled craftspeople to control this manually with their own experience and intuition.
This has lots of advantages, ranging from improved precision and repeatability to lower error rates and less waste during production, all of which are desirable in an auto manufacturing context. So how do car companies actually use CNC machining?
Pumping out engine components
Combustion engines have got increasingly complex and intricate over the years, with more parts and systems put in place to improve performance and enhance efficiency.
It is not practical to make certain components using manual methods, so CNC machines like those available on the Revelation Machinery website are brought in to handle the more complex and difficult duties,
For example, the entire core of an engine block can be made from a single workpiece with the help of CNC equipment. And while it takes time and skill to create the design and program the machinery to execute the necessary maneuvers, once this is all in place, it can be repeated almost endlessly, with the same precision present for the first part to the last.
Other engine components, such as cylinder heads, are often machined by CNC gear, rather than using alternative approaches like casting.
Working with plastics
Another impressive thing about CNC machining is that it is not just capable of creating car parts from metal, but can also be put to work on a range of other materials, which makes it applicable for manufacturing other components as well.
Plastics can be machined in this manner, whether to produce and repair body panels, headlights or interior trim which tend to be made of various common polymers in this category of materials.
Of course injection molding may be faster than CNC machining for mass production purposes, when it comes to working with plastics. This is why CNC equipment is more widely used by automakers for the purposes of rapid prototyping of plastic components.
The reason that this is the case is because CNC gear is adaptable enough to make almost any part using the existing tooling available to it, while making molds and dies for larger runs can be prohibitively costly. As such CNC machined prototypes allow engineers to perfect their designs and iron out any issues, before the part is approved to move forwards.
This describes the symbiotic relationship which exists between CNC machinery and other hardware used for auto manufacturing; it is not a case of computer-controlled equipment replacing incumbent technologies outright, but rather working alongside them and complimenting them in certain contexts.
The same goes for the way CNC tech has impacted workforces in this industry. Highly skilled operators are still needed, it is just that with a CNC-based router, mill, press brake or roller, they are able to optimize productivity levels and achieve more in the course of the day, rather than being usurped by a piece of equipment altogether.
Transmission component creation
Gearboxes are another incredibly complex system found within all vehicles, made up of many components of different sizes and shapes.
As with engine components, CNC machining can make it quicker to manufacture these parts with fewer flaws and missteps along the way.
Another enhancement that is achievable in this area comes thanks to the way that CNC milling can be used as a finishing method, rather than as the sole means of manufacture for particular components.
For example, while it may be more economically viable and fast to cast certain small parts within the transmission, there is always excess material left on a cast component that needs to be removed. CNC kit can handle this finishing in no time, and of course will make use of all its innate precision to ensure that no unwanted extras are left in place.
Since gearboxes require components made to incredibly tight tolerances, it should be obvious that CNC equipment is the way to go here.
Other enhancements of note
Aside from the aforementioned applications and benefits of CNC machinery in the auto industry, there are a few other trends impacting this technology which in turn are leading to perks for vehicle manufacturers as a result.
For example, automation is already part and parcel of the CNC scene, but the deployment of advanced machine learning solutions is making the very latest products in this marketplace even more reliable and precise. Equipment will not only be able to use vast amounts of data gathered over time to improve its efficiency and productivity, but will also be capable of alerting operators to maintenance issues and picking up on potential production flaws sooner rather than later.
Likewise as autonomous vehicles and zero emissions cars rise to prominence, CNC machining will remain relevant and arguably entirely essential to the development and innovative use of these technologies, both during development and on into mass production.
In short, the auto industry is only able to fulfill its potential, both today and in the future, with the help of CNC equipment. Its greater accuracy and efficiency leads to lower costs and means that even the most ambitious projects can be realized without stumbling over budgetary constraints or practicality limitations.
From the simplest consumer cars to the most advanced motorsport creations, CNC machining is catalyzing auto production and ushering in a new generation of cleaner, greener, more compelling products as a result.