Worth over $800 billion, the global aerospace industry is ripe with innovation. This industry is consistently at the cutting edge of new manufacturing practices and technologies. Aerospace CNC machining is now one of the most critical components of the industry. The reason for this is not far-fetched.
One of the most important factors when producing parts for aircraft or related systems is, of course, safety. Regardless of the aerospace project you are working on; every aircraft component must meet the highest industry standards. There is no room for human error in the production and assembly of an aircraft. From the smallest interior detail to the plane’s exterior, any flaws or inconsistencies can have devastating effects.
The extremely high level of precision needed within the aerospace industry makes CNC machining a suitable manufacturing process for the sector. The capability of this process to achieve very tight tolerances for metal and plastic parts allows it to offer robust solutions in the industry. This article provides you a complete guide to aerospace machining and its importance.
What is Aerospace CNC Machining?
This CNC machining process involves creating CNC machining aerospace parts to assemble and maintain aircraft and space shuttles. Aerospace CNC machining companies use kits, components, and assemblies which are essential for crafts used in the aerospace industry.
Aircraft parts, ranging from bushings, hinges, clamps, or other custom parts, need to come with high-quality materials. This is to ensure that these aircraft components function properly without involving any form of danger. This is why Titanium and Kovar are popular as the most used metals for aerospace components. Other materials may include aluminum, stainless steel, copper, bronze, and some types of plastic.
Importance of Precision in the Aerospace Industry
Precision machining is a vital aspect of the aerospace industry. This industry has loads of high production standards for CNC machining aerospace parts and more stringent safety controls.
Unlike other industries, the aerospace industry requires that dimensions, tolerances, and performance are the tightest and highest possible for every part. This is to ensure that these parts do not fail in flight.
A single faulty or imperfect component can cause a loss of thousands of dollars in aircraft and space stations. Furthermore, poor production techniques often lead to huge safety risks to end-users. This is why aerospace machining companies work hard to meet all of these requirements. At the same time, they have to ensure that they produce aircraft quickly enough to meet market demands.
Using state-of-the-art CNC machining equipment, qualified manufacturing services such as RapidDirect can produce aerospace prototypes and end-use components for aerospace companies. Working with aerospace-grade metals and plastics, CNC machine systems can reach tolerances up to 0.002 mm. Further, sophisticated post-processing and inspection systems can ensure that finished aerospace prototypes and parts are exactly up to standards.
Applications of Aerospace CNC Machining
There are so many applications of CNC machining across different industries. An aircraft comes with millions of components. Therefore, there are many manufacturing processes involved in their production. These processes range from sheet metal fabrication and injection molding to advanced manufacturing processes like aerospace CNC machining and 3D printing.
For example, 5-axis machining helps to produce complex aircraft components. This aerospace machining process allows for parts to be milled, drilled, and manipulated along the X, Y, Z, and linear axes. These processes occur simultaneously without having to reconfigure or fixture the part. Why is complexity an asset in the aerospace sector? In short: weight. Producing parts with a partially hollowed out or complex geometry can reduce its weight. This action is possible without sacrificing quality or performance.
Aerospace CNC machining companies pair sophisticated design with workflow software and state-of-the-art inspection processes. This helps the companies to produce end-use parts and high-quality tooling components for aerospace manufacturers. There are several CNC machining aerospace parts produced by CNC machining, and it will be impossible to list all of them. However, some significant examples include hydraulic manifolds, transmissions, fuel bodies, landing gear, electrical connectors, housings, and more.
CNC machining doesn’t only have an important role in the production of aircraft end-use parts. It also plays a vital part in aerospace R&D. This role enables aerospace companies to rapidly iterate new component designs, test them and, if needed, edit them. Aerospace machining companies such as RapidDirect can work with aerospace companies and OEMs. This will help deliver CNC machined prototypes and parts within as little as three days with tolerances down to 0.002 mm.
Aerospace CNC Machining Use in Aviation
Whether it is cargo planes, fighter jets, or passenger airlines, accuracy is an important component of aircraft construction. These accuracy requirements extend to every part of an aircraft’s production. It does not leave out anything, be it the innermost layer or the outer shell. For example, an airplane’s engine needs to keep it in the air for as long as it is in flight. As an implication, the engine must adequately process and use fuel. CNC machining helps to make some of the seemingly insignificant parts vital to the engine’s running.
When you also consider the cockpit, you will notice the importance of aerospace machining. Some small, connected components form a navigational system that helps a plane move from one point to another. CNC machining can help create these CNC machining aerospace parts. Finetuning and tweaking critical parts such as the plane’s wings can also ensure a safe and efficient flight.
Aerospace CNC Machining Use in Space Travel
When thinking of space travel, companies like NASA and SpaceX are the first to come to your mind. These companies responsibly design and manufacture the most technologically advanced spacecraft and rockets for different missions. However, aircraft CNC machining played essential roles in their ability to do this. This process is critical to manufacturing the most minute components up to the rocket’s body design.
As you know, it is important to build spacecraft to withstand life in space. Precision comes to play again here. Parts do not only have to work properly, but they also need to ensure the safe operation of the spacecraft. This ensures the protection of the crew and the spacecraft itself. Since precision manufacturing is the focus word in CNC machining, this process is the way to go.
RapidDirect Aerospace CNC Machining Capabilities
At RapidDirect, our engineers meet the stringiest of industry standards to revolutionize the CNC machining process continually. Regardless of the tolerances you need for your CNC machining aerospace parts, our experts have the knowledge and experience to handle them. We have an excellent record for providing our customers with the highest possible precision.
When other CNC machining companies view your aerospace machining requirements as impossible to achieve, Rapiddirect always expects your call. We are ready to work with you on every detail to ensure that the end product fits your unique requirements. Upload your design file today, and our tech-driven platform will generate quotes for you within seconds.
Aerospace Machining with 5 Axis CNC
CNC machining aerospace parts are complex, and they come in variations. Therefore, it makes sense to configure many of these parts with 5 axis milling machines. 5 axis CNC machining involves the operation of a machine using highly accurate CNC. This process moves cutting tools and parts across up to 5 axes at the same time.
The setup for the machine enables complex geometries. Since the aerospace industry continues to evolve, continuous reconfiguration and adaptation of parts are possible with 5 axis CNC machining. Generally, this robust process can cope better with the technicality and scope of aerospace components. Therefore, engineers can mill, drill, or manufacture them to the desired specifications of the aircraft. In addition, 5 axis machines meet the high-performance standards of aircraft CNC machining.
Materials Used in Aerospace CNC Machining
Although it is common to immediately think of an aircraft’s engine or wings when talking about aerospace manufacturing, millions of parts make up an aircraft. For example, the Boeing 747 comes with over 6 million components. Evidently, not all the parts are produced using CNC machining.
However, among those that are, there are several materials used in an aircraft assembly.
Two key properties dictate the CNC machining materials used by aerospace companies. These properties are strength and weight. Although considered strong, metals such as steel are not ideal for most parts. This is because they are incredibly heavy, leading to less fuel-efficient (and thus more expensive) planes.
The aerospace industry, therefore, looks at strong and lightweight metals such as titanium and aluminum alloys. Both of these metal materials used in CNC machining are easy to work with. Titanium, for instance, is roughly 30% stronger and 50% lighter than steel. It also boasts excellent resistance to high temperatures and corrosion. Thus, it is ideal for functional aircraft components and external parts.
Aluminum, for its part, is lighter than titanium but only about half as strong. The highly machinable metal is, however, more cost-effective than titanium. It is also well-suited for a wide range of aircraft components.
Although metal components boast more applications in an aircraft’s functional structures, many interior components come from polymer-based materials. These materials are significantly more lightweight than metals. They help produce parts such as interior wall panels, ventilation ducts, aircraft doors, wiring conduits, bearings, and more. They are aerospace-grade plastics that are lightweight, strong, and meet aerospace fire retardant regulations.
Aerospace CNC Machining creates strong, lightweight, and complex plastic parts for the aerospace industry. Making these parts include such materials as PEEK and other high-performance polymers. Similar to working with metals, aerospace machining offers the high precision needed for polymer-based aerospace applications.
The aerospace industry is known for its high-quality requirements and industry standards. The delicacy of the application of aircraft also makes it vital to produce high-quality parts. Aerospace CNC machining offers the required solution needed by the industry. With attention to safety and risk management, RapidDirect is ready to cater to your aerospace manufacturing needs.