What Is Custom Machining
Custom machining covers the methods or processes employed in creating unique parts to a customer’s specifications. The purpose of custom machining is to create unique parts or to modify existing designs to special requirements. These parts can be fabricated from engineering drawings, 3D models, or even reverse-engineered from existing products.
Modern machine shops now use CNC machines to create custom parts. CNC machining is a revolutionary manufacturing method. In this process, a computer controls the machining. CNC makes the machining process faster and produces better, more accurate products.
Types of Custom Machining
As we mentioned earlier, the term custom machining is a collection of processes. When creating a part, one or more machining methods are employed depending on the nature of the final product required.
√ CNC Drilling
In this process, a computer controls a drill bit that bores accurate holes in the workpiece. CNC drilling finds applications where precise holes need to be bored for screws, washers, bolts, etc.
√ CNC Milling
Milling is one of the most common machining methods. During the milling process, a spinning cutting tool comes in contact with the workpiece. As the spinning cutting tool moves along the workpiece, it removes excess materials to create the desired shapes and patterns.
5 Axis CNC milling is an advanced manufacturing process, it can create complicated machined parts with higher quality surfaces.
√ CNC Turning
CNC Turning involves rotating the workpiece on an axis against a cutting tool. The cutting tool moves linearly along the workpiece’s axis to remove excess material. Turning creates circular shapes and objects like pipes, screw threads, etc.
√ CNC Grinding
A grinding machine abrades the workpiece’s surface with a spinning tool made from rough material. The purpose of CNC grinding is to create a smooth surface finish by leveling irregularities.
√ Manual Machining
Typically, it includes machining by using manual lathes and manual milling machines.
Materials Options on Custom Machining
This is used to create parts with a wide range of materials. This is a significant advantage it has over conventional manufacturing methods. Materials that cannot be used with other manufacturing processes can be used with custom machining.
With this method, the materials can be processed, and they’ll still retain their strength and structural integrity. Materials used can range from conventional metals like aluminum and steel to plastics like ABS and polycarbonate to non-conventional ones like wood and foam.
Why Custom Machining
Custom Machining can be slightly more expensive compared to other production processes, so why use it all?
When parts are needed urgently, it is the only solution for making them. Although it costs more than conventional manufacturing methods, the turnaround and lead times are better.
√ Non-Standard or Obsolete Parts
In the industry, engineers can need parts that are not in a standard catalog or production anymore. This can be a problem leading to extended downtimes. With custom machining, these parts can be fabricated from the designs and modified to custom specifications.
√ Low Volume Requirements
Most manufacturing methods only make financial sense when the quantity is large enough to justify the production cost. When producing small orders, methods like
casting and injection can be expensive. It provides a way to fabricate small volumes like this cost-effectively.
√ Unconventional Manufacturing Processes
Custom machining is the top choice for making materials with special requirements. Objects like this have complex geometries or need features that conventional manufacturing methods cannot produce. With powerful computer-controlled machines, this process can fabricate almost any shape to any requirement.
Applications Of Custom Machining
Many industries out there are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits offered by custom machining. As the technology behind it becomes more sophisticated and accessible, the demand for it is steadily growing.
√ Medical Industry
Custom machining is very popular in the medical industry. In fields like orthopedics, prosthesis and implants are made to custom specifications for individual patients. Precision is of great importance here because small errors of just a few millimeters can result in pain for patients. So, it is employed to achieve customizability with great precision.
Another area where it finds applications in the medical industry is the creation of surgical devices. Surgical tools like scissors, scalpels, etc are made out of high-grade materials like steel to exacting standards. To achieve these standards with high accuracy, custom machining is used.
√ Robotics Industry
In the robotics industry, the design freedom offered by custom machining makes it the premier choice. Robots are unique products built to carry out different specialized tasks. Their design plans often call for new and innovative components produced in small volumes in an iterative design process. Custom machining is the only way to fabricate these parts cost-effectively.
√ Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry is a thriving market for custom machined parts. Parts made for the aerospace industry have very complex geometries and they have to pass high-quality standards. The parts have to be tough, tolerances have to be within a few microns, and most of all, they have to withstand high stresses. Unique manufacturing requirements like this make it a top choice in the industry.
√ Optical Industry
Optical equipment is very delicate instruments that require quality and precision in their manufacturing. Instruments like telescopes, cameras, microscopes and even reading glasses all contain lenses that have to be machined to precise specifications.
Delicate materials like polycarbonates, glass, and PMMA are used in making these lenses. The lenses have to be processed precisely to achieve the shape and finish required. Custom machining is used here to machine these components to the required curvature and mirror finish.
√ Automotive Industry
The automobile industry has long been the standard-bearer for mass production methods. But, in recent times, automakers, especially high-end carmakers, are beginning to switch to custom machining. This shift is happening due to increasingly complex customer requirements.
Components like engine blocks, suspension systems, and exhaust are being made to custom specifications. Even aesthetic parts like car rims, spoilers, and bumpers are also being custom machined.
Benefits Of Custom Machining
As a business owner or an engineer, there are many benefits you can gain from adopting custom machining as a production method. Let’s take a look at some of them:
√ Quick Turnaround Time
This is faster than almost all other production methods. With the advent of CNC machines, it has only become faster. CNC has made it possible to create products from digital design plans within days. Also, thanks to integrated supply and delivery chains, these products can be in the hands of customers faster.
√ Greater Design Freedom
Custom machining offers engineers greater freedom when designing products. With this method, they can modify and add better features to products that would not be possible in other methods.
√ High Quality and Precision
This is another area where custom machining shines. When parts with low tolerances or high quality are required, custom machining is the go-to method.
Unlike other manufacturing methods, materials in custom machining do not go through much strain and temperature changes. This ensures that their surface quality and structural strength remain after processing.
Custom Machining Cost
Based on our manufacturing experience, below are all the factors that influence the final price of the machining process.
There are a lot more factors that go into these costs. If you have a solid machining project on hand that wants to know the cost quickly, you can contact our team for more information.
The material is the first factor we’ll consider when sending you a quote. The sort of materials you specify for your parts influences the price of machining. Because for some material special things like coolants and custom tools.
High-quality materials like Titanium and aluminum are our most expensive materials. For materials like brass, the prices are lower. In some cases, we might have to make custom orders to get novel materials like foam or wood to create your part. All this reflects in the final price.
√ Machine Cost per Running Hour
At RapidDone, we have many machines on our shop floors ranging from CNC lathes and drills to powerful five-axis milling machines. Depending on the geometrical requirement of your parts, you’re going to be using one or more of these machines.
These machines cost different amounts to run. When you factor in costs like labor and electricity and consumables like cutting tools and coolants, we get the cost per running hour. So, the cost per running hour of the machine adds to the final price.
√ Finishing Methods
The services we offer do not end with custom machining. After the machining is done, the part will still need extra treatments to bring it up to the specifications required by the customer. We offer a wide range of finishing treatments like polishing, painting, anodizing, and electroplating. All these treatments add to the final price of the process.
√ Size of The Batch
As we said in earlier sections, custom machining is optimized for low-volume production. So, the size of the batch or order can affect the price. For one-off or small orders, you might pay full price. For a large order consisting of several similar parts, we offer certain discounts that can help in reducing the prices.
Have a customized machining project on hand and want to select a supplier?
When selecting a machine shop, it’s crucial to go for one with a track record of excellence. As a skilled vendor can even turn around or rework a defective design and create success out of it.
At RapidDone, we pride ourselves on quality and customer satisfaction.