Posted on 16th May 2019 in the categories: Automotive Industry, CNC Machining

CNC Machining in The Automotive Industry

CNC Machining in the automotive industry

Cars have existed since the nineteenth century, with their introduction changing civilization for the better. Giving prompt personal transport to vast sections of the population, while creating a new workforce and introducing a new aspect of popular culture.

Today, the automotive industry exists everywhere across the globe. In the early 20th century, the U.S. dominated automotive production. Although cars today are manufactured on a mass scale around the world, China is currently the world’s leading manufacturer of road vehicles, manufacturing 33.9% of the total world production. In 2018 alone, 81.5 million cars were sold worldwide.

Since the first cars were introduced to the market, automotive manufacturing processes have changed drastically. When the mass production of cars first began, around the same time as when Ford introduced the iconic Model T, most assembly work was carried out by hand. However, since then robots have become common in the manufacturing industry, carrying out welding and assembly in a much shorter time-frame than would be possible with human hands.

For some automotive components, CNC machining, which involves carrying out tasks like drilling and boring with computer control and automation, now serves as a favourable option for both prototyping and production.

CNC machines turn a digital file into a sequence computer instruction, which are sent to a motorised tool such as a drill, lathe or mill. The tool turns a block of material into a finished product by cutting it in the appropriate places, providing much greater accuracy than conventional machining.

CNC Machined Car Parts

  1. Engines

CNC machining can be used to create a few key components of a car’s combustion engine. For instance, a large aluminium block can be machined into a cylinder block. This is the metal structure that contains an engine’s cylinders where moving pistons travel up and down.

Though programming the CNC machine is a time-consuming process that requires a high level of skill, once prepared the machine can carry out its instructions without any assistance. Therefore, numerous engine blocks can be machined in sequence without a significant increase in labour.

Engine parts also generally produced using CNC machining techniques include:

  • Cylinder heads
  • Parts that enclose the cylinders above the cylinder block
  1. Lighting

In the automotive industry, machining of aluminium is one of the most important applications of CNC machining. However, materials such as acrylic glass or Poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) can be used to make other significant components.

Machining PMMA enables manufacturers to produce lighting for a vehicle, both its headlights and interior lighting. Even though these acrylic pieces need grinding and polishing after the CNC machining, the entire process is still quite fast. Therefore, allowing auto manufacturers to prototype new light fixtures for their cars quite quickly.

Commonly used as a shatter-resistant alternative to glass, PMMA can also be used for:

  • Fish tanks
  • Transparent shields
  • Windows
  1. Other parts

CNC machining is also used to produce a vast range of other car parts, such as:

  • Fluid system components
  • Exhaust parts
  • Bushings
  • Suspension components
  • Valve retainers
  • Carburettor housings

In addition, CNC machining is particularly useful for customising vehicles and their specific components, since CAD allows for the quick alteration of part designs.

Advantages of CNC machining car parts

  1. Speed

The most significant advantage of CNC machining car parts is the speed it offers. Machining is carried out automatically by a computer, therefore, no human limitations need to be factored into the process. This advantage becomes more apparent with high volume machining of a part, specifically because the computer instructions can be repeated as many times as necessary.

Although CNC is much faster than conventional machining, conventional machining may be faster in certain circumstances. For example, when only a single unit of the object needs to be produced. In this instance, the time it takes to create the computer instructions may surpass the time it would take to machine a single part manually.

  1. Accuracy & precision

Many automotive manufacturers favour CNC machining due to the accuracy it offers. The autonomous nature of the process leaves a very small possibility of an error occurring, with the finest machining settings providing tolerances of ±0.001″. This is highly advantageous as the automotive industry demands the highest of standards along with such fine tolerances, since the malfunction of a critical component could have severe consequences for the end user.

  1. Repeatability

With CNC machining, the same part can be produced multiple times without inconsistency between parts. Therefore, proving extremely useful when an auto manufacturer is producing large volumes of a single part. This is particularly beneficial within the automotive industry where on average a staggering 81.5 million cars are manufactured and sold per year, so the demand for large volumes is constant.

In fact, producing larger volumes with CNC machining is more cost-effective, since the machining of the product itself is less labour-intensive than the introductory stage. This is because the initial stage involves digitally designing the component, preparing G-code and selecting materials.

Goudsmit UK

Having supplied high quality components to clients in the automotive, medical, and oil and gas industries for over 20 years, we offer a significant level of expertise across multiple sectors. Goudsmit UK offers world-class tooling design, process control and manufacturing solutions. Our extensive experience and capabilities translate to faster lead times and cost-effective products.

Contact us today for more information at info@goudsmit.co.uk. Or to speak to a member of our team call us on +44 (0) 2890 271 001.

For more information on our CNC machining capabilities visit our webpage or download our brochure.

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