Key Challenges in CNC Machining Aerospace Components

Key Challenges in CNC Machining Aerospace Components

Manufacturing Technology Insights | Thursday, September 22, 2022

Hardened material is more expensive to process because it takes longer and wears out cutting instruments faster.

FREMONT, CA: The aerospace business is unique due to the seriousness of the repercussions of a single component failing. There's no need to get too specific in aerospace, but it should go without saying that everything must function correctly at all times. That means all the cogs have to spin, the brackets have to hold, and everything has to be a perfect match. The design and production phases are when quality control is established by ensuring that appropriate methods and materials are used. CNC machining is perfect for use in the aircraft industry.

Large, thin-walled parts machining

Engine and compressor housings have big interior cavities. CNC machines must core enormous material blocks to make helicopter blade transmission housings. This is time-consuming, wasteful, and causes residual strains in part. When dealing with tight tolerances and rigorous standards, residual stresses can cause distortion or warping.

Complex geometry

Complex geometries are sometimes unnecessary. Aerospace parts frequently feature complicated shapes to save weight while increasing strength or airflow. An interior component's organic surface shape is complicated. Since complexity increases machining time and supplier search time, it's ideal for simplifying part designs whenever possible.

Material properties

Aerospace applications demand specialized material qualities, and heat-treating metals increase their hardness and strength. Heat treatment is widespread yet challenging. Before machining, heat treatment makes the material harder and stronger, allowing for tighter tolerances. Hardened material is more expensive to process because it takes longer and wears out cutting instruments faster. Investing in titanium tools, rather than carbide or high-speed steel, can aid heat treatment before machining.

Materials sourcing

Find the correct material before processing or machining it. Superalloys and specialty polymers are difficult to procure and ship. Aerospace materials include titanium, nickel alloys, and Ultem, a plastic. Due to aeronautical components' particular needs, this will be a long-term difficulty. Aerospace businesses can avoid these limits by using digital manufacturing ecosystems (DME). Working with a DME increases the likelihood of a manufacturing partner getting the needed materials.

Suppliers

In the manufacturing industry, manufacturers finding the best manufacturing partner while sourcing is essential. Because of the industry's particular needs, most aerospace companies require AS9100 certification. AS9100 is based on ISO 9001, which supervises quality and safety in the industry. It can be challenging to discover producers with this certification. Digital manufacturing can fix this. Their large pool of partners likely includes vendors with the required qualifications.

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