The process of manufacturing is actually quite a complex activity that relates to people who have a wide range of expertise and disciplines and involves a wide range of tools, machinery, and equipment with a great deal of automation such as robots, computers and other equipment. The manufacturing process deals with various aspects of the workshop procedures and for providing the engineering materials, accessories, and tools as well as the manufacturing processes.
Types of Manufacturing Processes
There are various types of manufacturing processes as mentioned below.
Machining is a term used to describe manufacturing that uses a wide range of techniques and technologies. It can be defined as a technique through which a material is removed from a workpiece by the use of a power driver machine tool in order to give it the desired shape or design. Most metal parts or components require some form or the other of machining during the process of manufacturing. In fact, other materials such as rubbers, plastics or other paper goods may also be fabricated through the common process of machining.
Different Types of Machining Tools
There are quite a few types of machining tools which are used in the process of machining such as:
- Boring Tools
They are generally used quite often as a finishing equipment to make the holes larger which have been cut into a material previously.
- Cutting Tools
The basic examples of cutting implements are shears and saws. These are used for cutting the material such as sheet metal into dimensions or into desired shapes that are predetermined.
- Drilling Tools
This consists of a two-edged rotating device which is able to create round holes which are parallel to the axis of the rotation.
- Milling Tools
This uses a rotating cutting surface that has quite a few blades for creating unique designs or for cutting non-circular holes into the material.
- Turning Tools
These forms of tools are able to rotate the workpiece on to its axis as a cutting tool creates its shape. The most common type of turning tools or equipment is the Lathes.
Types of Burning Machining Technology
The burning or welding machines use heat for shaping a workpiece. There are quite a few of the common burning and welding machining technologies such as:
- Laser Cutting
The laser machine emits high energy and a narrow beam of light that is able to vaporize, melt or burn a material. Nd and CO2: YAG Lasers are generally one of the most popular types which are used in this machining process. This laser cutting process is ideal for creating patterns into a piece of material as well as for shaping steel. The benefits it has include extreme cutting precision as well as high-quality surface finishes.
- Oxy-Fuel Cutting
This is also known as “gas cutting” and this form of machining uses a mix of oxygen as well as fuel gases to cut away and to melt the material. Acetylene, hydrogen, gasoline, and propane are used often as gas media because of their high flammability. The benefits of this method are that there is low dependence on the primary or the regular sources of power, there is also a high level of portability and it also provides the ability to cut thick even on hard materials which include sturdy and strong steel grades.
- Plasma Cutting
The plasma is able to torch a fire into an electrical arc that can transform the inert gas into plasma. The plasma reaches very high levels of temperatures and is applied to a workpiece at quite a high level of speed to melt away the material that is unwanted. The process of plasma cutting is used quite often on the electrically conductive metals which need a cut that is precise in width and requires the least amount of prep time.
The first few computerized machines were developed back in the 1940’s and the 1950’s and they relied on a common telecommunication system of data storage technology that was known as the perforated paper tape or the punched tape but within no time this technology became obsolete as it transitioned into the digital computer processing systems in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Similar to how other forms of FDM (3D printing) and prototype development technology the CNC process also relies on the digital instructions through the use of the CAD (Computer Aided Design) or the CAM which is the Computer Aided Manufacturing. The CNC machine uses instructions to interpret the design for the cutting of the prototype parts. The process of programming computer devices in order to control machine tools helps to increase productivity during the manufacturing process by automating the labor-intensive and the highly technical process. Having automated cutting technology helps to improve not just the accuracy but also the speed through which the prototype parts are created, especially when the material being produced is very critical, for example, polypropylene.
The term CNC stands for Computer numerical control. This is a computer-aided technique that is used along with a wide range of equipment. It needs programming as well as software that uses the G-code language, in order to better guide the tool for machining in the shaping of the workpiece as per the parameter that is present. Not like the methods that are guided manually, the process of CNC Machining is more of an automated process of manufacturing and has a variety of benefits such as:
- Production cycles are high
As the CNC machine is coded properly, it generally requires very little in terms of maintenance or downtime which leads to a faster time for production.
- Costs of manufacturing are low
Since the requirements for labor are quite low in this process and the turnover speed is high, the process of CNC Machining results in a cost-effective process which is also because the production runs are quite high.
- Uniform production
The CNC machining process is very precise and it is able to give a very high level of consistency in terms of design for its production outcome.
Types of CNC Machines
These machines generally fall into two categories, the novel machining technology and the conventional machining.
Drills work through spinning a drill bit and then moving the spinning bit by putting it into contact with a stationary block of stock material.
This is more like the inverse of what the drill is all about as it spins the block of material against the drill bit. The lathes make contact with the material through moving the cutting tool laterally until it has progressively touched the spinning material.
- Milling MachinesThese is the most common and the most popular types of CNC machines which are being used nowadays. It uses the rotary cutting tools in order for the removal of material from the stock unit.
- Chemical Machining or Electrical Machining
These technologies use specialized techniques to cut the material. Such as the Electrochemical machining, Electron Beam Machining, Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM), Ultrasonic machining and Photochemical machining. Majority of these types of technologies are quite specialized and used for special cases involving a specific type of material in mass production.
- Other mediums for cutting
The novel technology uses a variety of other mediums as well for cutting the material. For example, oxy-fuel cutting machines, laser cutting machines, water-jet cutting technology and plasma cutting machines.
Vertical Machining Center (VMC) Process
The Vertical Machining Center (VMC) is also known as Vertical Milling Machines and is used for flat parts that should have holes. This process of machining is generally preferred where there is three-axis work which is done on a single face as in the die and mold work. As opposed to the machining that is horizontal the CNC machines that have a vertical machining center (VMC) have vertically oriented spindles. The workpieces of VMC are generally mounted on top of the table in order to perform the standard 2.5-3 axis machining operations. The VMC is quite useful for die and mold precisions, accuracy, creating parts, surface finishes and repeatability.
The term, “machining center” always describes the Computer Numerical Control or the CNC drilling and milling machines which have automatic tool changer as well as a table which is able to clamp a workpiece at a single place. The process of CNC machining is used in the manufacturing sector and it involves computers in order to control the machine tools. The Vertical Machining Centers are leaders when it comes to the machine tools for more than two decades for die mold, aerospace, in medical and energy industries for a variety of reasons such as:
- It provides increased productivity.
- There are high levels of efficiency in this process as there are shorter tools changing times.
- There is a high level of rigidity and stability completing heavy duty cutting.
- There is a high speed of the spindle and rapid feed speed.
- It provides high levels of accuracy and precision in the axis direction and radical direction.
- It can be useful for low volume as well as high volume applications.
- It can be used for both, low volume and high volume applications.
- It is used widely for a large part and small part machining.
- There is on machine probing for inspection or set up.
Difference between VMC and CNC
There is no difference between the CNC and the VMC machines. A VMC machine has a Computer Numerical Control controller. In this type of machine the cutting head is vertical and the type of milling machine there is a spindle which runs on the vertical axis that is known as the “z” axis. It is usually used for cutting metal and is typically enclosed.
Grinders in Manufacturing
Another manufacturing equipment used in the production process is the grinding. It is basically the abrasive machining process, and for a cutting tool, it uses a grinding wheel. Grinding is used extensively in the toolmaking and manufacturing sector. It can produce accurate dimensions and fine finishes and is better suited for the machining of very hard materials as well as for taking very shallow cuts. Grinding can also be explained as the subset of cutting and it is a true metal cutting process. Sanding and Lapping are considered as the subsets of grinding. A wide range of machines are used for grinding:
- Handheld power tools, for example, the die grinders or the angle grinders
- Different types of expensive industrial machine tools such as the grinding machines
- Hand-cranked knife sharpening stones (grindstones)
- Bench grinders
An overhead crane, to explain simply, is equipment or a machine that is used for lifting heavy materials from one place to another place in a precise manner. There is no “one size fits all” way to define what an overhead crane is, since each of them is engineered or designed for particular applications or purposes in order to better suit the material handling needs of a business. These overhead cranes may be built or designed in different types of components or configurations and can also be engineered or swapped out in order to improve its performance and its capacity. There are various reasons for using overhead cranes such as:
- For loading and unloading of materials from a truck
- In order to move materials around in a facility in a more efficient manner as compared to how workforce can or a tow motor would
- Pulling or filling dies in and out from stamping machines from a manufacturing plant
- To feed raw materials in a machine at the manufacturing plant
- For moving parts or pieces down on an assembly line in a controlled manner
- For moving around the containers in a rail yard or a shipyard
Apart from these variety of reasons why a company may use an overhead crane in their facility, there are two other main reasons why a company would want to install an overhead crane or a number of them in their manufacturing plant.
Generally, overhead cranes are more efficient than using tow motors or a range of workers for lifting and for moving the materials, and it can work at least two to three times faster. It is quite beneficial for a warehouse or a mill for streamlining their procedures or their processes through the introduction of their overhead cranes in order to automate their lifting, maneuvering as well as for unloading of the materials in the production plant.
It is quite safe
Another advantage of using an overhead crane at the manufacturing facility, assembly or the warehousing facility is the safety element. Cranes are widely used for safely lifting up and moving the materials even in extreme environments and may also be able to handle dangerous or corrosive materials such as chemicals, hot metals and heavy loads. A job crane of a workstation can be put in a place that can help the workers to move really heavy objects in a controlled and a safe manner and it also helps to cut down on the repetitive motion injuries and the muscle strains.
Other benefits of using overhead cranes include:
- It helps in the reduction of accidents at the workplace
- It results in a reduction of material or product damage
- It helps to improve the overall workflow
- It helps to lower the costs
Robotics in Manufacturing
Robots are used extensively in the process of manufacturing and are designed for moving materials as well as for performing a wide range of programmed tasks in the production and the manufacturing sector. Often, it is the robotics which is designed to perform the duties which may be unsuitable or dangerous for human workers such as the work which may create injuries or the repetitive work which creates boredom and may lead to the inattentiveness of the workers. Other various uses of robotics in the manufacturing industry are:
- Casting Works
The first robotic process was implemented back in the 1960’s which was the injection molding. In this process, the material was used in the form of liquid and then it was injected in the mold under pressure. The latter was formed by two halves which were held together during the process of metal injection. The mold was then cleaned of any residues of metal was used again.
- Application of Materials
Robots were also used in the coating of certain materials such as enamel, paint or metal particles for the protective purposes or for decorative purposes that are critical for most of the manufacturing processes and it had the greatest diffusion. It is used extensively in the appliances, automobiles and furniture industries.
Robots or the industrial robotics are used very much in the automotive industry today. The most popular and the frequent task for robots in the manufacturing of the automobiles is the welding of the bodies.
Intelligent robots are used in many assembly processes in any industry that requires a lot of precision and speed. As such industrial robots have become the ideal solution for assembly automation in the manufacturing processes.