Introduction

CNC machining is one of the most essential techniques in the manufacturing space because of its vast capabilities. The process involves gradually removing pieces of a workpiece till the desired shape is achieved.

The technology is compatible with various materials, including metals, plastics, composites, and wood. However, the main feature that makes the method popular is its impeccable precision and accuracy, resulting from computer codes controlling the cutting tools. 

This article will discuss the different CNC machining services and how to select the best for your metal fabrication.

Types of CNC Machining Services 

CNC machining has proved revolutionary to the manufacturing space, especially in metal fabrication. This section will focus on the most common CNC machining services for fabricating metal parts and components.

Milling

Milling is the most common CNC machining technique for metal fabrication. The process involves using a series of rotatory CNC mill cutters to remove components from a stationary workpiece. Like other CNC machining services, milling operations are controlled by computer codes and programs, making it highly precise and suitable for parts with strict tolerance. 

CNC milling operations
CNC milling operations

CNC milling is highly versatile and suitable for manufacturing metal parts and structures of varying shapes and design specifications. Besides general size reduction and reshaping of metal workpieces, CNC milling centers are ideal for other CNC operations like drilling, boring, and engraving. Also, it is suitable for creating specialized features like undercuts, contours, internal channels, pockets, slots, and faces. 

Turning

CNC Turning is another fundamental CNC machining service. Unlike milling, turning operations utilize CNC lathes with stationary cutting tools, with the workpiece rotating against the cutters till the desired shape is achieved. The CNC technique is not as versatile as milling; it is more specific for creating cylindrical and conical features. 

However, there are many metal parts and components that this service suits. For example, CNC turning suits tapering, facing, drilling, and threading.  Moreover, it is also a high-precision manufacturing process, making it a valuable metal fabrication technique for various manufacturing industries.

Typical representation of cnc turning
Typical representation of cnc turning

Drilling

Drilling is another crucial aspect of CNC machining. As the name suggests, the operation is typically for creating precise holes. The drilling operation uses CNC mills, lathes, or drilling bits; however, machinists prefer to use mills because of their superior versatility. 

The drilled hole placement, dimension, and depth are usually tailored to the specification, ensuring accuracy. This makes the operation suitable for manufacturing projects with tight tolerance requirements.

While drilling and boring deals with holes, we must inform them that they are different machining operations. CNC drilling involves creating holes while boring focuses on increasing the hole width. However, both processes share similarities in their applications. 

EDM – Electrical Discharge Machining

EDM takes a unique approach to achieving metal fabrication. It’s a non-conventional machining method involving electrical discharge to cut through and machine metal components. The technique uses electric current discharge between the anode and cathode to erode pieces off the workpiece.

The EDM technology is specific for making complex detailing and creating intricate cuts in metal workpieces. A primary advantage of the process is its suitability for dealing with hardened metals that may be challenging for other CNC machining services. Yet, it maintains tight tolerance and high precision specifications.

Besides the five CNC operations we discussed above, there are others. However, we focused on discussing the major ones, especially concerning metal fabrication. 

Other CNC machining services include:

  • Wire EDM
  • Grinding

Challenges and Solutions in CNC Machining for Metal Fabrication

While CNC machining has been a revolutionary technology for the manufacturing industry, some challenges are associated. This section will discuss the shortcomings of the technique and proffer solutions.

High Capital Investments 

Generally, CNC machines are expensive, making the cost of metal fabrication using any of the processes on the high side. Moreover, some of these machines can only handle one or two operations. Therefore, you often need to employ the services of various CNC devices during metal parts fabrication, resulting in a significantly high initial investment. 

The solution is to partner with a service provider to help you with your project, especially if it’s just a one-time fabrication. However, if you’ll be needing CNC machining services for the foreseeable future, you may start by acquiring the most important ones first. Then, as your shop or service expands, you can continue to acquire these machines one after the other. Before you know it, you’ll have a complete setup of various CNC devices.

Require Secondary and Post-processing Finishes

As with any metal fabrication process, you may need to engage in some post-processing operations after CNC machining to improve the parts’ appearance. This includes finishing services such as painting, polishing, assembly, etc., which attract more machining costs. 

The solution to this high cost is to work with a CNC machining service provider offering your required finishing choice. Most integrated services will provide you with discounts for using them for both services.

Another effective solution is to optimize the machining workflows and CAD files. This includes optimizing the machining strategies and tool paths, increasing the precision of the parts, and reducing extensive post-fabrication. In this case, you can leave your part as machined, needing almost no secondary finishing. 

Needs an Operator With Programming Knowledge 

We have reiterated in this article that computer codes and programs control CNC machining. Therefore, you need skilled operators to write the required programs to ensure optimum machining.

However, this issue is not as pronounced as it used to be, thanks to the existence of Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. This app allows you to create the required codes and CAD files that the CNC devices require, even if you have little programming knowledge.

CNC machines require an operator
CNC machines require an operator

Choosing the Best CNC Machining Service for Your Metal Parts Fabrication

When fabricating metal parts and components, partnering with the right CNC machining service provider is critical to the success of your project. Below, we explore some factors and criteria you should consider before deciding on the best service that suits your manufacturing needs.

Experience of the Service 

The service’s experience is a critical criterion before selecting any service. You want to partner with a reputable service that is not new to metal part fabrication, one you can trust. Indeed, there may be new and reliable machining services. However, trust is built through experience, which is vital for customer service. 

When you have two options, a new service and another with significant years of experience under their belt, the best choice is to go with the more experienced service. This assures you that your fabrication will attain all your necessary specifications. Also, read through reviews of previous customers to help streamline your choice.

Zintilon is the experienced manufacturing service your project requires. We boast up to decades of experience, serving thousands of customers across different parts of the world, delivering high-quality service each time. 

Material Compatibility

Another main criterion is the service’s material compatibility, especially if your project requires a particular alloy. You must ascertain that the CNC service you are selecting uses that material. Also, you must consider if the service has the required skill set to handle the material you plan on working with, including its complexities.

At Zintilon, we offer top-notch services for different manufacturing processes, regardless of material difficulty. Provided the material has enough tolerance to suit a particular fabrication, you can bet on us to deliver quality.

CNC-machine-tools
CNC-machine-tools

Evaluate Their Manufacturing Cycle Times

The production lead time is another factor to consider, especially if you are under a time constraint. You want a service that can meet up with your strict deadline. Ideally, you expect a reputable service to list their manufacturing lead times on their website. However, this may be subject to other factors, such as the complexity of your fabrication and the volume of parts you are manufacturing.

Therefore, consider partnering with a reliable CNC service that first evaluates your project, including estimating the production costs, manufacturing lead times, and delivery. This assists you in streamlining your choice so you know what to expect or consider another service.  

Fabrication Cost 

Indeed, manufacturing quality is more important; however, partnering with a service that fits your budget is vital. Therefore, when informed how long it’ll take to fabricate your part during product analysis, you must also pay attention to the cost. However, you, too, need to be a reasonable customer; factor in the complexity of your part, the material choice, and other critical details that may influence production cost. 

Also, you need to factor in the service’s manufacturing process and setup, as companies with more advanced machine setups may charge more but ensure quick and efficient fabrication of your part. 

Review Equipment Options and Machining Processes 

Before partnering with a service, confirm the technologies and manufacturing processes they offer. You want to ascertain that they provide a service that suits your current project. For example, if your project requires advanced milling centers, and the service just sticks to sheet metal fabrication, you know you need to look elsewhere for one that suits your specifications.

You should not hesitate to check their machine roster, which should be listed in a reputable service. This helps you confirm if they offer the service and check if the device is available, especially if you are under a time constraint. At Zintilon, we offer vast CNC machining services, including CNC machining, turning, drilling, EDM, different surface finishing options, and multi-axis machining services.

Customization Capabilities

While this depends significantly on your project, it is also crucial that you factor in the customization capabilities of the service you are partnering with. Evaluate if they can accommodate your unique designs and custom specifications. You see, regarding customization, the service may require more sophisticated CNC machines to achieve this, which may not be offered in all services. Therefore, factor in their customization capabilities, especially for projects demanding unique geometries and intricate features.

Review Certification and Quality Control Measures

Depending on your project, this criterion may be the most important. For example, when fabricating parts for the aerospace or medical industry, it is crucial that the service validate and verify every aspect of the production, ensuring premium quality control measures. Hence, you may just need to check their certification to ensure they’ll adhere to needed measures to ensure the part attains the required industry standards.

Zintilon is proud to be ITAR, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 13485:2016 certified. All this suggests that we will stick to all the requirements and specifications required by your fabrication. 

Zintilon is that Partner Your Metal Fabrication Needs

As we have reiterated throughout this article, Zintilon is the partner your fabrication needs. Our company meets all the criteria for your fabrication needs, including the strict tolerance and high precision required by the aerospace and medical industry.

We are a reliable partner you can continuously trust with your manufacturing projects for the foreseeable future. Our facilities consist of sophisticated CNC machinery, with experienced operators, programmers, and engineers needed to ensure high-quality fabrication. 

Contact us at Zintilon for a detailed review of your production costs and an assessment of the process. In fact, besides CNC machining, we also offer premium services in die casting, rapid prototyping, sheet metal fabrication, and surface finishing, including other related manufacturing solutions.

Conclusion

While many services specify metal fabrication, including new ones, you should partner with an expert and reliable service provider to ensure you meet your fabrication needs. Therefore, you need to consider all the factors and criteria we discussed to streamline your selection process and make the right choice.

FAQs

How Do I Know the Best CNC Machining Service for Metal Fabrication?

Different factors determine the best machining service for your fabrication needs. They include experience, cost, certification, etc. We have already discussed most of these criteria in detail. Read through to streamline your selection process.

Is Communication Important in Selecting the Right Machine Shop?

Yes, communication is vital. You and the service you partner with must have smooth communication, as this helps to ensure an easy understanding of what your fabrication needs so they adhere to all your specifications.

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