CNC Machining and Turning Best Practices
Updated: Jul 5
Machined parts have become increasingly more complex and intricate over time, and conventional machining is often unable to meet these demands. Fortunately, companies can rely on Computer-Numerical Control (CNC) machining to create cost-effective, high-quality products. The objective of CNC machining is to transform a piece of raw material into a final product or part using various cutting techniques. This task, however, can often be challenging for OEMs given the number of options to choose from when designing and machining a part.
Below are some of the key CNC machining and turning best practices that, when employed, help OEMs achieve high-quality parts at lower costs. It should be noted that several of these recommendations occur during the design phase since designing for manufacturability is crucial to fabricating a high-quality, cost-effective product. For this reason, it is crucial that companies partner with an experienced manufacturer like, Stanley Machining, that guides customers through the design phase and offers a broad range of CNC machining solutions. Stanley is a women-owned small business that focuses on the needs of each customer to help their business grow.
Design for Manufacturability (DFM): the concept of DFM is that potential manufacturing issues are identified and resolved during the design phase, boosting CNC machining efficiency while avoiding costly disruptions to the project budget and schedule. DFM is an element of lean manufacturing as it focuses on getting the design right in order to minimize rework and waste during the production and assembly steps. For example, OEMs and machine shops should consider part sizes that permit standard sizes of raw material blocks versus custom block sizes. Additionally, when designing parts with holes, opt for standard drill sizes for ease of manufacturing and assembly. It is important that OEMs ensure every aspect of the design is absolutely necessary to achieve the requisite part functionality and aesthetic – and when in doubt, opt for designs that increase CNC manufacturing efficiency.
Choose the Right Material: material selection is a key aspect of part design. A best practice is to choose a material that meets the needs of the CNC machining project, and avoid “over-engineering” the part. This practice will often save OEMs valuable time and money due to lower material costs and faster machining times.
Expertise in Tolerance Setting: during the design of complex machining projects, it is imperative that OEMs define the “right” tolerances and work with a machine company that has expertise in tolerance setting. Stanley Machining assists customers with tolerance setting and is known for their ability to produce high-quality and complex components, including non-symmetric work pieces.
Pick the Best CNC Machine: a best practice is to pick the best machine for the job, but some shops have hundreds of machines so which one is best for your project? The answer may be that it depends. For this reason, it is important to partner with a CNC machining vendor that can guide you through the design and manufacturing process for your specific project, and make recommendations based on your priorities. One key differentiator across CNC machines is the number of axes. Traditional CNC machines operate on the X- and Y- axes at the same time while advanced machines have up to five axes that work simultaneously, referred to as 5-axis machining. 5-axis machines are able to fabricate more complex geometries and are able to create an entire part with a single setup. This leads to more precise and reproducible products compared to traditional 2-axis CNC machines that require the part to be removed from the machine multiple times during fabrication. 5-axis machines are often the most cost-effective solution for OEMs, especially for complicated designs.
Not sure which CNC machine is best for your high-precision machining project? Team up with the professionals at Stanley Machining to leverage our expertise.
Turning Tooling Selection: one of the key aspects of turning is selecting the right tool insert. This may seem like an easy decision, but anyone who works with CNC machining and turning equipment knows that there is an endless number of tool inserts, brands, and grades available to choose from. This can cause headaches for personnel responsible for tracking inserts and part numbers. A turning best practice is to use control when determining which new tools to add in order to not overload the shop tool crib. This approach requires discipline and discernment but allows machinists to incorporate new tools and inserts that resolve specific machining problems rather than employing every new tool on the market.
Proper Inspection and Maintenance: this may seem like an obvious best practice but proper inspection and maintenance is crucial to project success, yet is frequently overlooked or short-cut. Routine visual inspection of CNC machining equipment is necessary to ensure safe and effective operations. For instance, operators should look for abnormal wear and tear or deformities, confirm the insert is firmly secured in place, check the insert pocket, and remove any debris build-up. Routine maintenance should be performed as schedule in addition to any necessary maintenance based on inspection findings. Additionally, a similar best practice is to know your tools and not target to run tools to the point of breaking or failure. In fact, many shops change-out tools at specific time intervals to allow machine operators to plan around and predict change-outs.
About Stanley Machining
Since 1966 Stanley Machining has been proudly providing unsurpassed, multi-industry contract manufacturing solutions to world renowned OEM's and government entities. As a global leader in precision CNC machining, we continue to provide unsurpassed expertise and value as a true partner with our customers. OEMs rely on our superior expertise and machining processes to enable them to maintain a competitive edge. We serve commercial and industrial sectors across a range of markets including defense, power, aerospace, and oil & gas.
We take pride in our quality assurance program. We are ISO 9001 certified and our AS 9100 certification will be completed shortly. We continuously re-invest in state-of-the-art equipment and highest caliber quality professionals. Stanley is a women-owned small business with over 125 employees and 200 pieces of CNC equipment under 400,000 sq. ft. in two locations.
Stanley Machining offers a wide away of machining centers to meet our customer needs. Our size and breadth allow us to offer a wide range of capabilities from small to large format production components. Stanley's wide range of equipment produces the most high-quality and close tolerance cutting edge components, including non-symmetric work pieces.
Contact us today to see how we can assist with your CNC machining project, or give us a call at 847-426-4560.