Difficulties with Precision Aerospace Machining

Machine Shops that work on a variety of different types of parts will know that custom machined parts for one industry may have drastically different issues than those machined parts for another industry.  Aerospace components tend to have similarities in what makes them difficult.  A few of the issues that face  include: extremely tight tolerances, large numbers of machined features, large amount of material removed during machining, and multiple quality specifications.

Let’s look at the tight tolerances.  Airplanes are assembled from a huge numbers individually manufactured parts.  Each of these parts needs to be manufactured to a precise tolerance in order to facilitate assembly.  By themselves tight tolerances are merely a norm in the precision machine shop world.  it is when combined with the other factors that the tight tolerances cause difficulties.

The second difficulty of custom aerospace parts is the large number of machined features.  An individual aerospace component may potentially have several hundred individual features.  When you will have hundreds of dimensional checkpoints, even a single feature that is at the edge of tolerance can cascade and cause future dimensions to be further off.  The only way to ensure that a part is going to be good is to hold the earliest tolerances even tighter than what the prints call for.

Implied in the second point is the amount of material removed.  Removing a large amount of material causes it’s own difficulties and stresses on the machinery.  Additionally the material itself will change dramatically as it loses the tensile strength of it’s original form while being  machined.  The programming and fixturing of the custom machined part needs to account for the changing strength of the material while simultaneously ensuring that tolerances are kept throughout.

Finally, in addition to the other issues, aerospace parts tend to have many external quality standards in terms of fit and finish.  The cosmetics need to be pristine and the painting or plating needs to be done exceptionally well.

The 2 parts pictured below exemplify some of the complexities of custom machined aerospace parts.

Here are some additional custom machined parts that we have made.

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CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

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Document Management in a Precision Machine Shop

Document Management is a very tricky and important skill to have in a Precision Machine Shop.  At CNC Industries, we deal with a wide variety of custom parts.  Some are simple and some are very complex parts.  Either way, each part that we machine has a variety of dimensions which may be very critical to the part.  In addition to the physical dimensions, in dealing with aerospace or military manufactured parts, there may be a large number of quality specifications which need to be followed.

CNC Industries uses a component of our ERP system to handle our document management needs.  Job Manager tracks all pertinent documents for all of the thousands of custom parts that we manufacture.    The Doc Manager Module is fully searchable, indexed, and has security implemented.  All uses may see only the documents that they need to, and any documentation that is needed is available quickly.

Gone are the days of the 50 page Job Router.  With our Paperless Doc Manager system, we have been able to save time and money while ensuring that all of our information is kept up to date at all times.  All documents are updated in real time allowing us to quickly react to any engineering or customer changes that occur.

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CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based Machine Shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

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March 9th, 2010|Tags: , , , |

Evaluating a Precision Machine Shop

At CNC Industries, as a precision machine shop are very interested in how we are evaluated for performance.  Traditionally machine shops are evaluated on the basis of
their ability to make the parts to specification.  While this is still a critical component to a machine shop, we do not feel that it adequately addresses all of the issues.

Precision Machining is certainly based on the actual manufacturing of the parts, the intangibles are as critical to the overall performance of the machine shop itself.  Questions that should be asked include:

  • Is the company adequately addressing any problems or concerns that come up?
  • Does the company follow best practice guidelines?
  • Does the company maintain it’s manufacturing equipment well?
  • Does the machine shop treat it’s customers with honesty and integrity?
  • Does the company perform to it’s promised delivery dates?
  • if a delivery date is going to be missed for any reason, does the shop notify the customer of the delay?
  • Does the company follow industry standards such as ISO 9001 and others?

Of course there could be many more questions that need to be addressed to fully evaluate a company.  But the main issue is that, even in a precision machine shop, it is important to look at the customer service given.

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CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.  The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

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Continuous Improvement and Precision Machining

There is a lot of buzz about continuous improvement in the business world today.  As a precision machine shop that focuses on contract manufacturing, CNC Industries has a different perspective than am office or a production machining facility.  While we do have several production jobs, the bulk of our work comes in short term contracts.

With short term contracts we do not have the luxury of being able to improve upon our performance throughout a physical run of a job.   Our customers demand a high level of precision, so we also cannot ‘dial the tolerance in’ over time.   Instead we need to focus on getting a repeatable general process developed which allows us to quickly and efficiently switch between our various contracted jobs.

Our continuous improvement initiative needs to account for the fact that our machines may be running different custom parts tomorrow than they are making today.  With all of this in mind, we allow each person in our company to suggest improvements both to how we run an individual machined part, as well as suggestions for the overall process of machining, how we get ready to machine parts, ability to keep precision, and any other facet of how our company works.  Our Process Change Request system ensures that each employee has the ability to express their thoughts for improvement in a way that will be reviewed in a timely manner.

Through the use of technology – specifically our ERP system Job Manager, we are able to monitor how effective we are from day to day.  We are able to track overall shop performance as well as any individual  job performance.  We make sure that all of our machinery is kept up-to-date with maintenance and we regularly purchase new equipment as needed.  As we see areas that are lagging in performance we are able to quickly remedy any deficiencies.

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CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based Job-Shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation  markets.   The company presently employs approximately 55 people.

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