10 Jul Who Dares Wins in Component Manufacture
Component manufacture often requires a different approach due to the challenges it possesses. So, it is no surprise that engineers renowned for innovation and vision in their work, can be conservative in outlook.
Traditionally, components have been milled or turned, with design engineers reluctant to try alternative approaches to manufacturing. Not only does change mean disrupting production processes but also fresh tools, more approval processes and tool kit modification. This means more money, more time and more effort.
Milling, machining, turning and the more sustainable approach of cold-forming are long used techniques dating back the 19th century. Whilst machining is one of the most commonly used techniques, it results in a high volume of waste material which makes it unsustainable and less cost-effective. The machining process also tends to be slow, which can make it difficult to keep up with a demanding production schedule.
Cold forming offers solutions to the problems that milling, machining and turning possess, despite the competitive edge that it offers, is often overlooked in favour of comfort and familiarity.
Cold forming can reduce the amount of waste metal generated during the manufacture of each component by up to 80%, when compared with CNC milling. With sustainability issues rife in today’s environment, being cost-effective and environmentally responsible is especially important.
In addition, cold forming enables large volumes of complex parts to be produced quickly and consistently – typically in excess of 300 parts per minute – and offers a better and far more easily controlled level of surface finish and smoothness than other production techniques.
Demands on parts and labour can also be reduced by cold forming, as the process allows parts that may previously have been assembled from a number of pieces to be formed as a single component. This reduces cost in a number of ways, from improving product output to saving time on inspections and the compilation of inventories further down the line, as there are fewer individual components both on the factory floor and in the warehouse.
Whilst there is no one method to any engineering project, cold forming and its high ceiling of potential is too often overlooked. Design and production engineers need to include the process when planning new projects, setting aside their natural caution to open up new opportunities for reducing cost and improving quality and performance.