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Precision in Action: Exploring the World of Metal Machining

a metal lathe in action, with sparks and flakes of metal flying off of a spinning metal rod.

When you work with a metal fabrication team, you want to know you will get the product you want from their production. You want to know that you are working with an expert team of fabricators who will use every machine, tool, and process available to get you the best results. Thanks to our experience and knowledge in the incredible world of metal machining, we can do this for your pieces.

When we machine your metal parts, we utilize our full breadth of experience, tools, techniques, and knowledge to provide you with fast, efficient, and high-quality production. This task isn’t easy, but you should never expect anything less than the best when you work with a metal fabrication team. If you want exceptional service and results, call us today!

What Is Machining?

Machining is a term that describes any time mechanical equipment is used to manipulate a material. This term can include removing unwanted materials, shaping pieces with bending or pressing, or even designing and molding materials. Almost all metal parts and pieces in modern metalworking will undergo some machining before reaching consumers.

Machining is used in material processing of all kinds, from plastic to paper. Metal materials typically receive the most processing since metals like aluminum, steel, and iron are very tough to work by hand. Many machining tools and processes are used today to produce quality parts of all kinds:

  • Medical Equipment
  • Aerospace Parts
  • Automotive Equipment
  • Electronic Pieces
  • Consumer Goods

CNC machining is one of the most flexible and useful tools in the metalworking industry. With CNC equipment, we can serve industries across the board, and every kind of client and consumer. This is because there are dozens of metal machining tools that each serve unique purposes.

What Types of Metal Machining Tools Are Used Today?

There are two significant ways to examine metal machining processes: the tool type and the machining method. Tool type refers to the tool’s structure used to machine metal. Standard precision metal machining processes use physical tools powered by machinery and robotics to ply extreme forces on metal material. These tools include:

  • Boring and Drilling tools
  • Milling and Grinding tools
  • Cutting tools
  • Turning tools

Boring and drill presses use bits to prepare holes that will see screws and bolts. Milling and grinding tools use a rotating cutting tool that removes unwanted material from pieces. A cutting tool removes material via mechanical scissors or guillotine-like equipment. Turning tools spin metal rods at high speed so that high-hardness blades can remove material precisely and evenly. But these physical tools aren’t the only methods of machining.

Other Machining Processes

While physical machining is used extensively, other tools and metal machining processes are more complicated, and lasers, water, or complex technology are used to produce detailed pieces in the desired shape.

Burning Machining Processes

A laser-cutting machine in action, a close-up of a metal plate with holes cut through it as a laser diode is held near the plate, and sparks are sent out from the point of contact.

Fire is used throughout metallurgy and is at its most refined use in burning machining technology. This type of machining includes laser, oxygen fuel, and plasma cutting tools. These tools use extreme heat and energy to remove material from metal parts. Lasers are often used to cut, burn, or vaporize materials. Oxyfuel and plasma cutters are used for extremely hard metals that can’t be cut through traditional tooling. Burning machining operations are invaluable for the modern manufacturing process.

Erosion Machining Processes

While laser technology is the star of burning machining operations, water jet cutting is one the greatest forms of erosion machining. Erosion can wear down mountains over centuries, but this process can be sped up to seconds with high-powered water jets. A related form of metal machining is electric discharge machining, which uses electrical arches to create tiny craters in materials. Erosion is incredibly valuable in the machinist’s toolbox, providing fabricators like ourselves with much more powerful cutting and milling machines.

CNC Machining Processes

CNC stands for computer numerical control, which is simply computerized machining operations. This machining method can be used in concert with nearly any other machining process and is rapidly becoming the most common type of machining. By programming software with designs, a CNC machine can provide complex geometric shapes more precisely, consistently, and quickly than a person. This type of machining often requires much more setup and preparation of materials, but it is an invaluable part of modern machining.

Common Terms in Machining and Metal Fabrication

The terms and jargon within the metal fabrication world can be very niche. This terminology might arise as you manufacture your products, leading to confusion if you aren’t familiar with the terminology.

  • Speeds and Feeds: These refer to two different cutting tool calculations: the tool’s speed as it cuts and the rate at which the machined parts are fed throughout the machining process.
  • Workholding: Different machining process tools need the parts to be held in different positions. The type of workholding will determine how the machining process tools can manage the part as it is cut.
  • Toolholding: This is the companion of workholding and refers to how the machining tools are held in the machine—is it on a robotic arm? Part of a lathe? This answer determines how the process of removing unwanted material will occur.
  • CAD and CAM: Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Machining—are the terms used in CNC machining to describe the programs used to produce computer-machined parts.

Work with the Machining Experts at Brandywine Valley Fabricators!

If you have any questions about the tools and techniques your parts will undergo, call us today! We are accustomed to cost-effective metal machining processes that can handle high volumes of work without error. Whether you need a specific shape, smooth finish, or mass production, we can provide any and all of these benefits to your metal fabrication needs.

Getting a desired shape from a base material as hard as metal can be complicated, but with the knowledge and expertise available to you through us, you can get precisely what you need faster than ever before! We are a Southeastern Pennsylvania fabrication company that knows the difficulties and technicalities of getting finely crafted metal parts. Let us help you get what you need. Contact us today!