The Essential Processes In Aerospace Manufacturing
Aerospace manufacturing is a complex and fascinating industry that requires technical skill and expertise at every level. There are several essential processes that have developed over the years, but here are just some of the most important processes that are now followed in this exciting field.
One of the best-known manufacturing technologies in aerospace is milling. This method is utilised to form cuts and lines into a workpiece, whether these are simplistic and regular or more detailed and complicated. This low-cost but accurate process is ideal for the different designs required for aerospace parts, and either horizontal milling, side milling, vertical milling or form milling can be used to achieve the right result, depending on the material.
Swiss turning has been increasingly used in recent times as it is the best method when smaller pieces need to be turned. It is a more cost-effective method than other manufacturing processes and allows for complex and specialised parts to be turned – ideal for long runs. If you are working with different lengths of workpieces, a Swiss turning machine is essential, due to the firm support the machine provides while it is used.
Unlike a traditional lathe, which holds a piece at either one or two ends, the Swiss turning machine uses a spinning and sliding technique through the guide bushing, reducing tool force impact. This means you can focus on intricate and detailed workpieces, with lower levels of vibration and higher efficiency suitable for mass production jobs. When it comes to aerospace parts, accuracy is vital down to the smallest detail, and Swiss turning guarantees this each time.
Hard turning is used for finishing parts and pieces as an alternative to grinding in some cases. It is seen as the best method for pieces which have a hardness value that is above 45 Rc and does not require the same level of specialist training and expertise that grinding needs. This is useful when you require those with less training to be able to finish complicated and intricate parts, especially if they are already used to working as machinists, due to the similarity with methods used in soft turning. During hard turning, the lathe uses single-point tools to process materials like steel alloys, which can be major components used in aerospace manufacturing.
Due to the delicate nature of aerospace machinery, it is necessary to ensure that each part and every material used is smooth and uniform so that there are no irregularities that could cause building and performance issues later on down the line. Grinding is the most well-known process used to ensure this level of regularity between pieces and can be used on any size workpiece. Grinding is usually an expected part of aerospace manufacturing, and the grinding wheel can be used to shave chips off from any shaped piece, depending on which types of grinding you use such as form grinding, cylindrical grinding, centreless grinding, or surface grinding.
Cutting and sawing
Industrial cutting and sawing is a well-used process in the aerospace industry. Plate saws are commonly used for thermal cutting, and vertical and horizontal sawing are used depending on the kind of task at hand. Cutting parts down allows for precise size and shape is vital for aerospace construction, and waterjet cutting has become increasingly preferred over hot process methods as these can compromise the material being cut. For versatility, high-speed bandsaw machines can be used for cutting a variety of different materials needed in aerospace parts, including metals and plastics.
5-axis CNC machining
Many parts required in aerospace projects require intricate detail work on areas that can be challenging to reach using traditional methods. Using 5-axis CNC machining, the piece and the tool are able to move inside the machine to create better reach. This is useful for workpieces that require more specialised geometries, as 5-axis CNC machining is perfect for creating perfect results and high quality.