What does CNC machining have in common with the automotive protective film? As it turns out, cold-war-era helicopter blades!
Around the same time that 3M was developing their protective coating for helicopter blades, John T. Parsons was manufacturing Sikorsky rotor blades for the US Army and trying to fulfill the orders.
Using IBM accounting machines, he was able to calculate coordinates and table settings. Though machining had been around for hundreds of years, 1949 was the birth of CNC machining as we know it today due to Parsons’ efforts, along with MIT.
In less than 70 years, the advances have been fabulous.
Keep reading to see why CNC milling is more important than ever!
The Age of CNC Milling
Milling is the process of cutting away material using rotating tooling, whether metal, plastic, or wood. They are used for cutting slots or complex geometry.
To know how that works, first, we need to know what 3 axis machining is. 3 axis refers to the x-y-z coordinates that you probably remember from middle school.
CNC milling involves a:
- Machine tooling
The worktable is the work area, where the material is positioned. The saddle works to adjust the worktable in relation to the spindle. The spindle is where the machine tool is rotated, and ready to mill!
The machine tooling is a cutting tool, known as a mill cutter. This is the business end of the CNC milling machine. Milling shoulders, edges, and grooves may use a combination of the end, peripheral, or face milling operations.
The arbor connects the tooling to the spindle.
The fixed base of the machine, much like a foundation for a home or building. It also often houses oil and coolant used in the process. The knee is below the saddle and supports the saddle and worktable at an adjustable height.
End vs. Peripheral Machine Tooling
Shoulders usually have two faces, while grooves have three surfaces. Peripheral milling cutters have cutting edges on their ends, and they’re preferred for cutting grooves and slots, partially due to their disk shape. Peripheral milling tools are better for long slots or grooves because they won’t wear so quickly.
End milling cutting tools are round have cutting edges on their sides and ends. Since they cut more on their sides, they wear a little quicker and are preferred for short slots or grooves, and complex shapes.
That covers most of the cutting tools in milling.
The Final Cut
Machining is the bread and butter of virtually everything you see around you, no matter the material it is made from. Because machining is a subtractive process, it can be used in conjunction with another innovation, 3D printing.
3D printing is an additive process, and the two together herald a new age in machining. CNC milling isn’t going anywhere but up!
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