1.4 What Materials and Tools are Used for Precision Machining?
Taking advantage of its versatility, Precision Machining can be used to process products form numerous kinds of raw materials. Although more commonly used to produce metal items, Precision Machining can be used to manufacture products made from plastics, ceramics, composite materials, graphite, and glass materials as well. Materials often used for precision machining, and special considerations needed for each include the following.
Precision Machining Materials
- Stainless Steel
Due to its strength and resistance to corrosion, stainless steel is one of the most commonly used materials for precision machining. Stainless steel is a very versatile material and there are many different alloys and grades of stainless available. The machining and treatment options used will be based on the type of stainless steel being used.
Aluminum has many advantages, being lightweight, easy to machine, non-magnetic, corrosion resistant and inexpensive.
Brass is an economical alternative material for many applications. Brass is easy to machine into items with a smooth clean finish and holds tolerances well, making it an ideal material to use for threaded items.
Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of metals used for machining. Its light weight and high resistance to heat and corrosion makes it suitable for a wide range of applications including aviation parts and medical tools. One of the drawbacks of titanium though is that it can be quite difficult to machine and the material is quite expensive.
Steel is often used an industrial application, such as auto manufacturing and in the oil and gas industry. Its strength, durability and low cost make it a material of choice for larger applications. Steel is easy to weld in comparison to the other common metals but is prone to corrosion without heat treatment or plating.
Copper is another metal that lends itself well to precision machining. Copper is versatile, durable, and resistant to corrosion but does not hold tolerances as well as most other metals.
Precision Machining Tools
Depending on the material to be processed, various types of cutting and milling tools are used in the precision machining of raw materials. The tools must be high precision in order to comply with strict tolerance requirements. Common tool types include lathes, milling machines, EDM, saws and grinders. Most precision machining is done using CNC heavy machinery which can remove material from large objects yet produce products with extremely fine tolerances. Products are often completed using robotics or photochemical processes.