Published on June 1st, 2022
Specialized manufacturing operations require unique CNC machining solutions. Aerospace part makers work with many materials that call for metalworking techniques that maximize productivity and minimize waste.
Existing solutions can be modified to suit an aerospace production environment, while new methods offer even more benefits and possibilities. This short guide introduces CNC machining and additive printing tools in aerospace manufacturing.
The Essential Applications Required
Your aerospace CNC machining equipment setup depends on the specific parts you plan to manufacture. Aluminum structures such as beams and covers call for different tools than assembling subunits containing composite materials or high-pressure turning to shape discs and rings. Several aerospace tooling solutions exist, designed to accommodate both part designs and material properties.
End milling features in production processes for aluminum structures, blades, engine casings, disks, rings and landing gear components. Simply put, end mills use cutting surfaces on both the ends and sides of a cutter. These tools shape the outer edges of components, but they can also create shapes and holes inside a piece of material.
Shoulder milling tools create both plane and shoulder surfaces at the same time. They’re effective in speedily removing large amounts of material, which makes them ideal in several aerospace manufacturing applications: hard alloy machining, forgings and engine casings, for instance.
Primarily employed for horizontal cutting, face milling is used on surfaces that lie at 90-degree angles to the cutting tool’s rotational axis. Its purpose is to remove some material from a piece of metal’s surface. Face milling is common in blade and fan components as well as titanium roughing operations creating plates, bars and beams.
Aerospace parts can have complex designs and structures. Engine casings are a relevant example. Machining a casing can call for turning, drilling, rough milling and finish milling processes. Modular tooling allows you to complete these operations while reducing tooling times.
A Game-Changing Solution Using Additive Printing
Maybe you’ve heard or seen how 3D printing has improved manufacturing operations in many industries. Several 3D printing applications fall into the category of additive printing, which creates objects by constructing them in layers.
These technologies have built everything from medical devices to footwear, and now they’re making significant inroads into the aerospace industry. Instead of cutting shapes out of material as a sculptor carves stone, additive manufacturing builds objects from the ground up by applying materials according to design specifications.
Many 3D printing applications involve thermoplastics, resins, carbon, metals and metal alloys. When working with metals and their alloys, these materials are broken down into powder form for use in 3D printing equipment.
Metal powders such as Stellite’s 6-AM-K provide similar benefits to solid materials while existing in a format that’s easy for 3D printers to use.
A Wide Range Of Tooling Solutions
From basic holemaking to additive manufacturing, aerospace parts making involves a broad spectrum of tools and processes. Traditional and advanced metalworking equipment plays critical roles in parts assembly and subtractive manufacturing.
Meanwhile, 3D printing offers much promise for both small- and large-scale components. Working with a vendor specializing in these production solutions is ideal for developing your production environment and processes.