• Challenge Engineering - CNC Machining Sydney

The Advantages of CNC Machining for the Transport Industry

Vehicle Shafts with CNC Machined Components

CNC machining has been a major contributor to growth in the manufacturing industry for decades. It has become so prevalent, that it has made manually operated machines more or less redundant. Machine shops that stick with manual machines simply cannot keep up with the pace and accuracy of CNC machines.

The transport industry is well known for its incredibly high manufacturing rate. One of the largest vehicle manufacturers, the VW Group, produced 10.9 million vehicles globally in 2017, which equates to a staggering 29,000 cars per day. This is only possible with advanced, high speed manufacturing machines such as CNC’s.

This article will give a top-level overview of CNC machines in the transport industry. We’ll focus on the automotive industry, since it often leads the way with technological advances. However, rail and heavy road transportation are also big users of CNC machining services.

Advantages of CNC machining

To understand why CNC machining is so crucial for success in the industry, it’s important to consider the advantages of the technology. A typical automotive manufacturing line is characterised by extremely high production rates, consistency and cost reduction. Some of the key advantages of the technology are listed below.

1. Automation

CNC machines can be set up to churn out a specific part 24 hours a day without rest or complaint. This creates massive labour savings, since an operator does not need to attend to the machine constantly and can often run multiple machines at once. The level of automation can be taken even further by making use of robotic arms to remove finished parts out of the CNC and load new materials with little human intervention. A person would only be required to assist if a fault occurs.

2. Precision & Accuracy

Due to the nature of the machines, they can produce consistent and accurate parts without significant deviation. Any small deviations that occur once machines begin to wear down are typically caught in the quality control process. This results in a system that will produce consistent quality parts. This means that every vehicle rolling off the production line will be almost identical to the one before and after. This is critical in a mass manufacturing setting, as each customer must have the same experience with the product.

3. Speed

CNC machines can operate at extremely high speeds that would be impossible to achieve with human hands. In a production line setting, speed is paramount. More speed means more production, and more production means less cost for the end customer. Speed is often limited by the material used and complexity of the part.

CNC Parts in the Transport Industry

Vehicles are made up of a wide range of components that are created by using almost every manufacturing process from casting and injection moulding, to vacuum forming. Some of the key automotive components that are typically made on CNC machines are:

  • Shafts

  • Valve retainers

  • Engine blocks

  • Pistons

  • Timing covers

  • Bushings

  • Secondary machining operations on castings

  • Transmission cases

  • Gears

  • Brake systems

This list is by no means exhaustive, but simply provides an overview of the array of different types of parts that CNC machines can be used for within the transport industry.

It should be noted that CNC machining is also used to manufacture tooling for other manufacturing technologies. This can include highly complex moulding for injection moulding systems, through to creating dies for vacuum forming machines.

Looking to the future

CNC machines have a wide range of capabilities and can manufacture anything from a simple shaft to a multi-surface turbine blade. These machines have been key to the rapid growth of manufacturing speed and quality, and will continue to dominate the manufacturing side of the transport industry.

With the rapid rise of metal 3D printing in the automotive sector, many would think that the time of the traditional subtractive CNC machines are coming to an end, however, even the most expensive metal 3d printer cannot replicate the speed and precision of a CNC machine. CNC machines will act in conjunction with these metal printers to perform finishing operations on the parts.

Challenge Engineering is an Australian ISO 9001:2015 certified CNC machining company based in Sydney. To find out more go to www.challengecnc.com.au.

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