Select metal manufacturing techniques to meet the brief

metal manufacturing techniques

Select metal manufacturing techniques to meet the brief

It’s no secret that we love to bang on about precision cold forming. Why wouldn’t we? It’s cost-effective, it produces significantly less waste compared with other manufacturing techniques and it improves component strength and finish. However, for some projects there may be an alternative option that better suits. That’s why in this blog we’ll be reviewing our other favourites and providing advice on selecting them.

Milling is the Volkswagen Golf of machining techniques: simple, reliable and an absolute classic. Using a variety of cutters, milling machines remove and shape metal to form a desired component. In times gone by, workpieces were moved on four axes, but much like the Volkswagen Golf, new designs have improved its capability and performance. CNC machines that move on five axes now exist, enabling previously impossible designs to be achieved.

The downside to milling is the waste. As a metal removal technique it wastes significant amounts of material and requires large volumes of lubricant fluid to cool the operating parts, lubricate the cutting surface and improve surface finish while preventing metallurgical failure

Turning is one of the oldest and simplest machining processes. In lehmans terms, the part is rotated while a single point cutting tool is moved parallel to the axis of rotation, removing unwanted metal to produce a component in a desired, typically axi-symmetrical shape.

Similarly to milling, turning produces large volumes of swarf. Also, most parts may require several more operations and finishing on other machines, which increases the time it takes to produce ready to use components and is likely to increase costs.

Much like turning and milling, grinding is a relatively simple process. A grinding machine rotates a piece of metal (or wood) using a regulating wheel while a grinding wheel works to grind it into the desired form. While it offers many advantages, its very difficult to achieve a final component without the use of other techniques, in the same way that turning requires finishing on different machines. It is also a relatively inefficient process and produces large volumes of waste.

So where does cold forming compare with these three techniques? Well, it all comes down to the brief. In our extensive experience, manufacturers generally opt for grinding, milling and turning ahead of most alternatives. Often this is the case even if they’re not the most appropriate choice.

To get the best possible results and at the best cost, we recommend looking beyond the safety of milling, grinding and turning and exploring a range of options. With cost saving opportunities to benefit from, there really is a time and a place for other techniques, especially precision cold forming. The trick is to consider all of the options and select a technique based on each specific project.

As a global leading provider of both precision cold forming and machining services, we have the experience and know-how required to advise as to which technique is best to suit your need. Contact us today to find out more.