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Posted on Sep 14, 2020
Numerically controlled machining (CNC) allows car engine parts designers to achieve an almost unbelievable level of accuracy and consistency. The programmability of a digital computer not only automates the operation of the equipment but also provides a level of repeatability that cannot be achieved with handheld equipment. That is why CNC has been the basis of virtually all production for 40 years.
Lathes, milling machines and CNC machining centers can be used to machine a wide variety of industrial and precision car parts. Most engine builders who have CNC equipment, however, mainly use it to machine the engine block and cylinder head. Even so, the possibilities don't stop there. Some engine builders use the capabilities of their CNC machining equipment to do a variety of things, including engraving valve covers and other parts, making carburetor adapter plates, custom engine parts, motorcycle parts, and even industrial parts.
“If you can dream it, you can machine it,” said one CNC equipment supplier. In other words, if you can design, map, and program a part for a CNC machine, find a way to fix it, and get the right machine tools to cut it, the only limitations to what you can do are the physical dimensions of the part you want to machine, and hardware size limits. CNC. A fully equipped 5-axis CNC machining center obviously offers the widest range of possibilities, but the 3-axis and 4-axis machines are also capable of multi-tasking.
While most automotive CNC equipment sold today is adapted to work with automotive heads and blocks and precision car parts, there is no reason why you should not use the same equipment to expand your business in new directions. When the economy came in recession and the demand for engine building took a big hit, some engine builders who had CNC capabilities began taking on custom CNC machining projects to offset the drop in their automotive work.
Diversifying the type of work they did not only helped them weather the recession but also strengthened and expanded their customer base. Up to 50 percent or more of the work currently performed by some of these stores is non-traditional CNC machining. This includes creating custom automotive and other parts, machining various types of castings and other components, and even making custom CNC programs for others.
The software digitizes the dimensions of the parts to be copied and determines the machining strategy and toolpaths needed to produce the part. The information is then exported to the G-code which is used to run the CNC machining equipment.
One of the non-standard jobs he was doing was making a set of speed stacks for an alcohol fuel dragster. The pattern for the speed piles was first hand fashioned from wood on a lathe, then flow bench tested and reshaped until the desired flow characteristics were achieved.The wooden stack was then digitized using the CNC probe and imported into the CAD/CAM software to make the parts on the CNC equipment.
Some of his non-automotive work included machining heads for industrial compressors, fabricating custom 10-inch multi-groove pulleys for gas well compressors, aircraft maintenance parts, torch holders used by paratroopers during exhibition jumps and even custom sports knives.
Making custom CNC parts requires not only a high-performance 5-axis CNC machine with good CAD / CAM software, said Nichols, but also all related hardware that may be needed to support and perform the R&D required to develop and make custom parts. . For auto work, this may include a flow bench stabilizer.
:: Read more : What is CNC 5 Axis Machining?
Anyone considering purchasing CNC equipment should have basic machining skills and experience. Most automotive CNC machine suppliers offer basic training to get you started, and most machines come with basic part cutting and milling software.
The software may also include an engraving program for machining valve covers, plates, plates, and other flat surfaces - a feature that has proven very popular with many CNC users to create signs and knick-knacks to promote their own business.
To copy parts, you need a digital probe to trace the dimensions and contours of parts with complex shapes. You will also need CAD / CAM software to create a digital part plan and G-code to operate the CNC equipment.
Depending on the type of CNC hardware and software package you receive, you can make anything from custom crankshafts and camshafts to complete cylinder heads and engine blocks. And once a project is mapped and programmed, it can be saved for future projects so you don't have to redo everything from scratch.
While many engine builders have only purchased their CNC equipment to machine automotive cylinder heads and blocks, you should also think about all the other opportunities this type of equipment can open up to your business.
Think about what work you can do in three to five years. Think about the work you are currently doing to someone else and how your CNC equipment can allow you to do the same job on your own. Think of all the other custom CNC machining options that may be available in your area. ”
:: Read more : CNC Machines – Everything You Need To Know
A CNC is simply a way of automating the feed, cutting speed, location and angle of a machine tooling. Manual controls on the machine have been replaced by computer-operated servos.You tell the machine what you want it to do by typing on a keyboard or using a touch screen (such as bore the block, cut the upper and/or lower O-ring seats for the cylinder liners, align bore the block, resurface the block.
You also enter the necessary parameters that tell the machine how much metal to remove. The part is then clamped and positioned manually or automatically against the tooling and the computer takes over the operation of the equipment and performs the requested processes.
What happens if you screw up and enter the wrong machine control code? If the CNC equipment has built-in software safeguards that can detect obvious input errors, tool offset, or positioning errors, stop the machine and / or request a correction before proceeding. However, if the software doesn't have these capabilities, you could end up with an expensive piece of garbage in the machine or broken tooling. Accuracy is essential so that the machine does not drill a hole in the wrong place or too deep, or mill too much metal from the surface of the part.
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