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Posted on Oct 16, 20206
High precision components are workpieces that are used in a variety of industries. These are highly technically advanced products supplied by a diverse manufacturer base. Horst Engineering works according to customer drawings and specification requirements to develop the processes necessary to manufacture complete parts from metal, plastic, polymers and other materials.
When customers look for a machine shop to help them with a manufacturing project, they often see phrases like "precision machining", "high precision,", and "ultra-precision" workpieces. While the workshop is definitely qualified to perform high precision work, the customers more often than not have no clue what any of the terms mean.
In the manufacturing industry, the term "high precision machined parts" typically refers to machining parts with tolerances in the single-digit micron range, while ultra-precision includes tolerances in the sub-micron range. Machining parts with very tight tolerances is always a challenge, but the complexity of the work is determined not only by the required tolerances, but also by the materials used and the number of features of the part.
Precision machining is needed in all industries such as aerospace, dentistry, fluid mechanisms, medicine, sports, and technology. However, we are seeing a greater move towards greater precision and ultra-precision work in the medical field as the medical parts become smaller and more complex.
Each CNC machining workshop has the ability to make high-precision parts. But when you want to make these very complex, precise parts, you need sophisticated machinery to do it efficiently. In addition, while a skilled mechanic can make a high-precision part, we have found it important to incorporate precision throughout the entire manufacturing process, from the first customer consultation to final quality control before the product comes to market.
Precision machining is much more than creating a part that meets the requirements. The idea is to make sure the initial plan is designed to create a functional product as efficiently and accurately as possible, and to integrate quality assurance checks throughout the process to make sure all final shipment meets customer needs.
Everything I’ve described so far is in line with the Principles of the Counter: Theoretically a perfectly symmetrical, perfectly shaped, perfectly stiff machine has an elegance that should not be aspired to in engineering. All this perfection costs money. Sometimes the most profitable solution is to introduce imperfections. Given the inability to obtain a perfectly formed, perfectly rigid machine, it may be better to introduce a small amount of controlled compliance into the system, in such a way that it will relieve stresses while minimally impacting performance.
It is difficult to quantify what "precision" means in "precision engineering". While agreeing on a single definition is not critical, the guidance of many experts offers valuable insight into precision engineering practice, including the effects that need to be addressed.
Earlier, I described a precision machine or instrument as having a level of accuracy "many orders of magnitude smaller than the size of the machine or instrument itself." or "Positioning and stability with very small dimensions, typically less than 1 µm."
In the Textbook of Optomechanical Engineering, Daniel Vukobratovich defines: A rigid structure is one where the "dead weight deflection is less than the alignment tolerance". This concern for self-weight deflection suggests the axiom: When the effects you would normally ignore are significant, you are active in the field of precision engineering. Some of these effects include:
Self-weight deflection Differential thermal expansion Storing energy in the form of strain that can be released and cause alignment errors due to shock, vibration or temperature fluctuations In many companies, they will research these and other effects, as well as ways to eliminate, mitigate, or compensate for them through training courses and extensive articles like this one.
Now that we have taken the time to define a precise scale, it should be noted that the application of precision engineering principles and techniques is not limited to such scales. In some companies, they have helped a wide range of clients in industries that are not traditionally considered precision manufacturing by:
Honing the tooling and fixtures used in production (often in conjunction with automation and robotics) to improve throughput and yield.
Implementing Interchangeability of design changes and spare parts in production and in the field to increase product flexibility, serviceability and aftermarket sales and upgrades.
I remember one of the very well-known engineers remarked – anyone can design a bridge that won't collapse. This saying is about having the knowledge not to over design a solution. On knowledge of available materials and construction techniques and understanding of trade-offs and effects of those choices. It’s about economics.
Whether the problem is a precision engineering problem depends on whether the tools and techniques that constitute a precision engineering practice are an economically viable way to achieve design goals. This entails taking financial cost pertaining to development, production, and support into consideration, so does accuracy, weight, and stiffness.
Precision engineering alone provides a range of solutions to every problem, such as clamping stability, from kinematic fixings to quasi-kinematic fixtures to a simple set of three machined inserts and protrusions separated by a suitable distance. Which solution is appropriate depends on the application.
Just as a mechanical engineer working with complex systems benefits from an understanding of electronics and control engineering (and vice versa), understanding precision engineering principles and their application can benefit any technician, engineer, or manager involved in creating complex systems.
IMTS gathered worldwide Precision Components manufacturers into this online platform. Browse and search for your next supplier with us.
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