Innovations that CNC Machining is Bringing to the Automotive Industry
Ever since the first Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908, the United States has been a car-crazy country in a love affair with cars, trucks, and SUVs. Since its creation at the beginning of the 20th century, it’s become a sector that generates billions of dollars in sales every year. While most drivers know how to replace their car’s oil and tires, what isn’t well known is how CNC machining is leveraged to make numerous vital car components that make vehicles more powerful, faster, and more reliable than ever before.
From the time when the first vehicles were introduced to the US market, the automotive manufacturing processes have drastically changed. In the past, most of the assembly work was carried out by hand.
Today some heavy machinery and robots have become frequently utilized in the manufacturing industry, carrying out assembly and welding in a much shorter time-frame than it would be possible with human hands. Nowadays, many automotive parts and components are made with the help of CNC machining, which includes carrying out tasks like milling, drilling, and turning.
Everything is done through computer control and automation, as now CNC machining serves as a favorable option for both prototyping and production of car components. In the following paragraphs, we’ll first talk about the applications of CNC machining in the automotive industry. Later, we’ll say a couple of things about the benefits that this technology offers to the industry.
The Application Of CNC Machining In The Automotive Industry
Each car has more than 10,000 car components in it, and almost one-third of those components has a close connection to CNC machinery. Due to the wide variety of materials compatible with CNC machining, this manufacturing technology can produce different types of products for cars and vehicles. The most important car parts that are made with the help of CNC machinery include:
Car components like the dashboard panel are generally produced using CNC machining. The machinery offers the necessary high precision for milling a dashboard frame from a block of raw plastic material. It’s also beneficial for ensuring the cutouts for the gas gauge, speedometer, and indicator lights align entirely once installed.
More complex metal car parts such as starter motors are usually manufactured using CNC machining. The complexity and precision of the process enable this type of car parts to be optimized and improved in durability, reliability, and performance.
CNC machining is further used in the manufacturing of engine blocks and cylinder heads covering the cylinder in the internal combustion engine. CNC is mainly utilized for limited runs of more complex cylinder heads or customized engine models. The cylinder heads are typically made from a solid block of aluminum, a relatively easy metal to machine. Other similar parts that can also be produced with CNC machining include alternator housings, brake system valves, and fuel pump systems.
Representing the second stage in a car’s transmission system, the gearbox is made up of different shafts and gear components. Even smaller and more delicate parts of the gearbox that are cast can then be finished using CNC drilling and milling tools.
CNC machining is also widely utilized by original equipment manufacturers to produce customized car components or rare replacement parts. For example, in the restoration of a vintage car, this computer-controlled technique can be used in combination with reverse engineering practices to develop one-off pieces that might otherwise be obsolete.
Benefits Of CNC Machining In The Automotive Industry
CNC machining has been enthusiastically adopted in the automotive industry, as car producers around the globe seek to benefit from the process’ various perks, including automation, repeatability, precision, speed, and many more. Here are the top benefits that CNC machining offers to the automotive industry.
Accuracy And Precision
Car manufacturers value CNC machining high due to the accuracy it offers while producing car components. The self-sufficient nature of CNC machining leaves a tiny possibility of an error occurring, with the latest CNC machinery settings providing tolerances of ±0.001. This benefit of CNC machining is crucial to the automotive industry as the industry demands the highest standards along with such exceptional tolerance levels since every malfunction of a vital vehicle component can have severe consequences for the driver of the vehicle.
Maybe the most significant benefit that CNC machining offers to the automotive industry lies in the speed it provides. The production of various car parts is carried out automatically by a computer, so no human limitations need to be factored into the procedure. This benefit becomes more apparent with high-volume machining of a specific part because the computer instructions can be repeated as often as necessary. Besides, numerous concrete steps can be taken into account in the production planning process to optimize and speed up the machine’s run time, including part tolerances and material choice.
Automation allows faster production times compared to manual manufacturing procedures, and it also makes the automotive manufacturing process more streamlined. For instance, if a specific part is sent to be produced on a CNC machine and robotic arms are fixated to help remove the finished part once it’s done, human workers can dedicate their time to other design and innovation tasks.
With the help of CNC technology, manufacturers can produce the same part multiple times without any inconsistency between parts. CNC machining is proving extremely useful to auto manufacturers that are generating huge volumes of a single element. Knowing that there are over 70 million cars manufactured and sold every year, the demand for car components in vast quantities is constant.
CNC Machining Helps
This manufacturing technology is heavily relied upon in the production of different car components. It also serves for the development of new car models, since CNC machining can be used to rapidly prototype high-quality functional prototypes of car components for design testing performances. One thing is sure, though, CNC machining is an integral part of the automotive industry for the time being and the future.