Electronic devices are ubiquitous in personal and professional life. However, not everybody is familiar with the several processes involved in making the different electronic components they use. Majorly, CNC machining is the most common rapid prototyping method used in making electronic components prototypes and final products. Therefore, there is a need to look into electronic parts machining
This article will talk about the use of CNC machining in the electronic industry. It will discuss the different reasons why CNC machining is applicable in making electronic parts machining and the different CNC electronic components you should know. Read on!
Why CNC Machining Is Popular in the Electronic Industry
Before discussing the different CNC electronic components common nowadays, we should first discuss why electronic parts machining is viable in its industry. Below are a few reasons.
· Wide Range of Materials Support
CNC machining as a process is suitable for a wide range of materials. The CNC electronic components come in different types of material which is the reason for the use of the rapid prototyping process.
· High Level of Precision
CNC machining has an ultra-high level of precision. Therefore, it is suitable for machining small and complex parts that can form part of a larger electronic assembly or larger components like the aluminum shell of a laptop. Moreover, the tight tolerances afforded by machining centers mean that machined parts are often suitable for end-use after minimal post-processing.
· High Reliability
The high reliability of CNC machining means that electronics manufacturers use the technology for small and large production runs of electronic parts. This is in addition to the prototyping of various components.
· Reduction in Production Time
Electronic parts machining also has a short production time. There is no complex tooling required. However, even though there is a short production time, it produces higher quality CNC electronics parts than other short-turnaround technologies like 3D printing.
For all of these reasons, CNC machining is highly suited to the prototyping and production of components for electronic devices, from simple handheld devices to expensive pieces of industrial equipment.
Common CNC Electronic Components
CNC machining is a widely used manufacturing process for metal and plastic parts. It is known for its precision, repeatability, and ability to produce strong and durable parts from extruded blocks of material. Consequently, components large and small, simple, and complex, can be CNC machined. Below are CNC electronic components and parts made by CNC machining:
CNC Machined Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
PCBs are an essential feature of almost all electronic products. Used to connect the various parts of an electronic device electrically, PCBs use conductive tracks and other features and are usually made by etching. The conductive features of a PCB are generally made from copper, while the flat substrate underneath is made from a non-conductive material.
Etching is the most widely used method for making PCBs. However, unlike CNC part machining, it is not always the most practical. This is because etching requires hazardous chemicals. Therefore, it should not be used in offices and other non-industrial workspaces.
That’s where electronic parts machining comes in. Like etching, it can be used to carve out functional PCBs. CNC electronic parts machining does not require hazardous chemicals. Therefore, it is a safer option for certain work environments.
Advantages Of Machined PCBs
- CNC part machining doesn’t require chemicals
- You can make PCBs in-house
- It is ideal for prototyping
- Fast turnaround
- Easy to design and execute with CAD/CAM software
- It brings multiple operations together under one machine
CNC Machined Electronics Casings and Enclosures
Electronic parts machining is also suitable for manufacturing plastic or metal enclosures that function as an electronic device’s exterior shell.
You can also make these casings and enclosures using die casting or other tooling-based processes. However, electronic parts machining has the advantage of high precision, and tight tolerances, which is crucial for consumer goods casings having minimal surface defects.
Electronic devices like smartphones, digital cameras, and laptops all require aesthetic and durable casings that contain the devices’ circuitry and hardware. Many manufacturers use molding processes to make these parts, but the advantages of electronic parts machining favor it for complex designs and a more professional finish.
Advantages Of Machined Enclosures
- Milled from solid materials like aluminum, resulting in high strength
- Range of surface finishes including anodization
- Engraving possible
- Fast turnaround
- Possible to incorporate threads and other features
CNC Machined Heat Sinks
Many electronic devices, including computers, require heat sinks. Heat sinks are passive heat exchangers that take the heat generated by electronic parts and transfer it into the air or a liquid coolant, dissipating the heat from the device to ensure it does not cease to function through overheating.
Electronic parts machining is ideal for making heat sinks, even though the electronic components can sometimes be very small in size. CNC machines offer specific advantages in heat sink construction, such as fabricating unusual fin patterns.
Most machined heat sinks come from aluminum or copper alloys. Still, other possible materials include stainless steel and Inconel, and CNC machining of heat sinks is preferable for short-run production or rapid prototyping of electronic devices.
Advantages Of Machined Heat Sinks
- Flexibility with fin patterns and other features
- Various material options
- Fast turnaround
- Exceptionally tight tolerances suitable for miniature electronic devices
- Ideal for prototyping and experimentation
CNC Machined Connectors and Sockets
The design of many electronic devices is to work in conjunction with other devices. Think of a USB keyboard and mouse for a computer, such as an electronic musical instrument designed to plug into an amplifier or mixing desk.
These connectable devices require metal connectors and sockets, for easy attachment of devices or cables.
CNC part machining plays a big role in the manufacture of these connectors and sockets. This is because it is adept at cutting small metal components to very tight tolerances. The tolerance guaranteed by the technology is important because if the pins of a connector or the circumference of a socket do not meet the required tolerances, the connection between devices may fail.
Machined parts in this category include sockets, contacts, sleeves, hoods, and pins, many of which are suitable for machining with copper alloys.
Advantages Of Machined Connectors and Sockets
- Tight tolerances
- It is ideal for one-off devices or short production runs
- Fast turnaround
- CNC machines can process highly conductive metals
Semiconductors are responsible for today’s technological marvel evident in the electronic industry. They can perform the function of vacuum tubes that are a hundred times bigger than them. Yet, an increasingly competitive semiconductor market demands smaller, more precise package designs. CNC part machining is an important process in making semiconductor components. This is because of its high accuracy and wide material support.
Semiconductors are mostly one element, silicon or germanium, or doped with other elements. However, semiconductor machining in the presence of an experienced CNC machinist can handle any of these materials.
However, even though semiconductor machining is a popular procedure, in the electronics industry, only a few companies have experienced machinists and the right machine to create them.
CNC part machining is an important technique as it allows the manufacturing of electronic components without issue. It offers advantages such as a high level of precision, high readability, and reduced turnaround time.
This article discussed the advantages of CNC part machining and the different and common CNC electronic components. CNC machining is not only ideal for electronic component machining. Therefore, when you think of quality machining, think of RapidDirect. Our team of experts can help you get the best out of your design, reduce cost, and deliver quality parts and products.