Would you believe that CNC technology and the aerospace industry are like a match made in heaven? Worth almost a trillion dollars, the development of aerospace equipment is big business, and it’s one that requires exacting precision and quality in order to function. This is an area where CNC technology was made to thrive, and this quick guide will attempt to explain just why CNC machining for aerospace applications has become such a big deal.
First, some background on CNC machining in general and its broad application within aerospace. To recap, CNC machining is a manufacturing process that makes use of high-precision cutting tools and computer-directed machine setups to create highly accurate parts with minimal human error and superb reproducibility. When it comes to aerospace, this could be any number of parts that are essential for sky- and space-worthy craft.
Now, two big, important factors when it comes to the performance of aerospace parts are safety and precision. Perhaps more than any other industry, the aerospace industry requires the tightest and highest tolerances and dimensions on every part. They need unparalleled precision, because one miscalculation on a component could cause an entire aircraft or space vehicle to fail, and that, in addition to being an exorbitant waste of money, could also cost human lives. There’s no room for compromise, so high quality is an absolute must.
This is where CNC machining comes into play, as the process is capable of fulfilling the main requirements sought after by the aerospace industry:
- High performance: CNC machines can even work with difficult materials like titanium, producing parts with the heightened physical characteristics needed for aerospace engineering and air/spaceflight constructions.
- Lightweight: Similarly, CNC machines can work with a range of materials in ways that maintain the structural integrity of parts but allow for reduced weight. This “lightweighting” process is integral to balancing weight with other important factors—like strength, quality, and performance under stress.
- Precise: There’s a continual push toward higher accuracy within CNC machining, and many CNC machines, working with aerospace-level plastics and metals, can reach tolerances of up to 0.002mm. This sophistication allows for confidence in designs.
- Reliable: Because of strict quality control standards present within most CNC machining operations, parts can be produced, reproduced, and replicated to the same degree of reliability necessary for their high-precision applications.
- Efficiency: CNC machines are famed because they can do all this quickly and continuously. When it comes to high-speed, high-efficiency production, CNC machining is one of the frontrunners out of modern production processes.
And when it comes to getting the most bang for the proverbial buck, CNC machining comes with additional benefits that can add to the whole process for aerospace applications. For instance, 5-axis CNC machining and turning technology, affords a significant advantage in the manufacture of complex components. It allows for manipulation and cutting operations along multiple axes simultaneously, reducing the need to reconfigure tools (which would increase production time) and keeping efficiencies high. Factors like these combine to make CNC machining a natural choice when it comes to production for both aviation and spaceflight.