CNC machining has become a go-to approach for flexible manufacturing. This type of machining permits high precision, high-speed production of specialty parts for a variety of applications. CNC machining’s unique capabilities stand apart from other manufacturing approaches. By allowing for remarkably tight tolerances with the ability to cut and form numerous types of metallic and polymer materials.
It is vital that customers consider all of the factors that go into selecting the correct materials. So that they are really able to reap the benefits that are provided by CNC machined components. Below are five tips on how to choose the best materials for your next project.
What type of environment will your part be based In?
Do you know where your CNC machined components will be installed? You also need to know what they will be used for, this is the first step in the material selection process. If your part is going to be utilized in an outdoor environment, a stronger, rust resistant material will be better. Your choice of material will be affected if your part must meet specific FDA-regulated specifications for military, nuclear, aerospace, or sanitation purposes. Finally, the stress load, dimensional tolerance, and type of fastening be it bolted, welded, or riveted, will also play a large factor in material choice.
Consider your facility’s operating temperatures
Ranging temperatures or temperatures that are very high or very low will restrict you from using certain types of materials. The concern really comes from ranging temperatures as even moderately small changes can cause parts to expand, fold, or break. Select materials that will be suitable for your companies operating environment whether they be stable and strong, or volatile to allow for a bit of a temperature range.
Material Weight – Consider how it affects the overall design
While heavy materials can absorb stress and provide decent strength, they should not always be a “go-to”. Especially for weight sensitive products and applications. There are several lightweight materials such as specialty alloys, polymers, and ceramics that provide adequate strength, tolerance capabilities. The difficulty that comes with selecting lightweight materials is that there is rarely one specific material that will meet the needs required for your product. It is important to consider weight as a design factor early in the design process. This is so you can select the material properties that will be necessary which will help with selecting the correct lightweight materials.
Material Strength – What strength profile does your final CNC machined component need?
While “strength” may refer in part to the weight bearing load that a material can handle, there are ways that a material’s strength ability can be divided. Below are four strength properties to consider when selecting a material to machine:
- Tensile Strength: the resistance of the material to break under tension
- Endurance Strength: the amplitude of cyclic stress that can be applied to the material without causing failure from fatigue
- Wear Resistance: a materials ability to handle frictional and recurring loads without exhausting it
- Material Hardness: usually this strength property is expressed as a Brinell or Rockwell hardness number. It is the materials ability to withstand pinpoint surface loads
Overall project cost & material manufacturability
High strength, lightweight materials are typically more expensive to source. As well as machining resistant materials such as titanium and carbide. While it’s beneficial to keep costs low, you want to select a material that is able to meet the strength, temperature, and fitment requirements needed for your product. Keeping costs low may be difficult due to the needs of your final CNC machined components. This becomes easier as you minimize the non-negotiable material characteristics your product design demands.
Following these tips will help to ease the burden that comes with selecting the correct and most cost-effective material for your next CNC machined components. If material selection still feels intimidating, feel free to contact our specialists at Wisconsin Metal Tech to help guide you through the process.