CNC Turned Products vs. Screw Machine Products

CNC Turning Verses Screw Machine

When the screw machine product was created 100 years ago, it’s original purpose was to make screws for a variety of different products. However, while the name has remained the same, the technology behind a screw machine product has evolved throughout the years to meet the needs of modern turned components. CNC (or computer numerical control) turned products is the automation of machine tools that operate via computer-programmed commands, as opposed to mechanically automated machines such as a screw machine. So, what are the benefits of each?


Screw Machine Products

A screw machine product is a class of automatic lathes for small to medium sized parts. The name “screw machine” is considered to be a tad misleading, as these machines don’t only create screws anymore or screw anything into place. Instead, these machines work by spinning metal bar stock on a rotating lathe, which essentially shaves the metal down to a desired size and shape. A screw machine functions with a disc cam, which is a rotating piece used to transform rotary motion into linear motion, or vice versa, using either a single spindle or multiple. Because a screw machine operates with closed spindle collets which hold the cutting tool, deflected debris is reduced to minimal or none at all.

Screw Machine Manufacturing Capabilities

Screw machines are used for bar work in a variety of shapes such as round, hex, or square. The entire bar stock is passed through and turns with the spindle, and is then separated from the part and fed forward, making the screw machine ready for the next part. Screw machines are more time efficient than CNC with their ability to turn 6 to 8 operations simultaneously depending on the number of spindles the machine has. Typically, most automatic screw machines have 6 spindles with some having up to 8 spindles. Screw machines can hold and repeat with tolerances of .0025” of an inch.

CNC Turned Products

The first CNC machines were created in the 1940s and 1950s, modifying existing tools and implementing motors into the design. CNC products essentially function the same way as screw machine products, but instead of being operated by cams, they are mainly controlled by computers. Having transformed a great deal throughout the years, CNC turned products are now equipped to feature more sets of tooling than screw machine products, which allow the machines to perform multiple operations on a part in a shorter amount of time.

CNC Turning Manufacturing Capabilities

CNC turned parts are known for being more precise than its predecessor the automatic screw machine. A CNC machine can rotate parts to speeds up to and exceed 10,000 RPM’s, with accuracies as tight as .0002” of an inch. With accuracies that are able to be achieved and its repeatability it has become the most dependable and efficient way to manufacture precision parts worldwide. Because of the machine’s extreme precision, it is used in a variety of industries such as automotive, aerospace, medical, agricultural, and more.

Do you need a part created but aren’t sure what would be the best process – CNC turning or screw machines? Ask us! We’ll be happy to help you figure it out.

The Best Options for Custom Machined Parts: How to Choose

There are a number of options for manufacturing your custom machined parts. Which option you choose depends on what you’re looking for, your budget, your timeline, and other factors. Let’s take a closer look at the different options for custom machined parts, and which might work best for you.

The Best Options for Custom Machined Parts: How to Choose

Local Job Shop

Working with a local job shop provides you with the most flexibility and visibility. You’ll be able to take a closer look at the shop behind your parts or prototype and work more closely with engineers and machinists. This is a particularly attractive option if you’d like to optimize your design. Look for a job shop that also provides CAD/CAM design assistance and you may be able to take advantage of cost-savings during the manufacturing process.

Working with a local job shop also allows you to learn more about the machines and machinists involved, and make sure that the job shop has the capabilities and expertise to manufacture your parts with accuracy and quality. Collect the information you need about your project beforehand and you’ll be able to vet the job shop properly, and ensure that they have the right equipment, skills and manufacturing process.

Online Ordering

According to a 2018 e-commerce report by the Census Bureau, manufacturing made up approximately 67% of e-commerce shipments, amounting to nearly $4 trillion. This includes a wide range of different products, components and items, including custom machined parts.

Online ordering is one option to order custom machined parts. Though it offers less flexibility and visibility, it might provide greater speed and cost-savings. There are many different services for online ordering, and different companies have different processes for fulfilling orders. In some cases, the company may offer some remote design assistance, but others might not offer this service. In other cases, you might simply offer your design files and, with an expedited and simplified quote process, receive a quote and order your parts.

If your parts of components are somewhat simple and don’t probably won’t benefit much from design assistance, or if you have ordered these types of parts before using the same design files, this may be a viable option.

Toll Manufacturing

Working with a toll manufacturer can give you additional control over the manufacturing process, but will also give you greater responsibility. With toll manufacturing, you’ll be responsible for providing the materials and any other other requirements, while the manufacturer provides the facility, equipment and staff.

If you have favorable relationships with materials suppliers, this option can help you save considerable money. In addition to maintaining control over materials, this option can also provide more protection over intellectual property, such as your patents. For buyers that wish to have more control over the manufacturing process while still working with a reliable partner over an extended period, toll manufacturing can be a favorable option.

In-House Manufacturing

In some cases, in-house manufacturing can be a good option, though this requires considerably more time and investment. This option provides maximum control over materials, intellectual property, and every aspect of the manufacturing process. However, it also requires substantial investment in the equipment and facility, hiring and training, management and more.

If you foresee your manufacturing needs increasing significantly in the near future, and if you foresee this being a lucrative branch of your business, this may be a worthwhile investment. However, it’s important to carefully consider all the expenses associated with this endeavor, and accurately forecast income you might gain from it before making this decision.

There are many options to obtain your custom machined parts. Consider your options carefully and the costs and benefits of each. As you make this consideration, think about what these business relationships and investments will mean for your business right now, and into the future.

7 Reasons to Use a Job Shop for Metal Machined Parts

Working with experts at a job shop for metal machined parts offers many benefits. Some of these benefits are clear from the outset, while others might need further examination. Whether you are working with large volumes, small runs, or prototypes, there are many benefits to working with the right job shop. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons to use a job shop for metal machined parts.

7 Reasons to Use a Job Shop for Metal Machined Parts

1. No Equipment Costs

The right milling, turning, screw machines and other equipment for metal machined parts requires substantial investment. High-quality CNC mills with even the simplest configurations cost over $50,000 for a single machine. And you’re unlikely to use just one machine for your machined parts. One of the first and most obvious reasons to use a job shop for metal machined parts is there’s no upfront investment required on your part—the machine shop tackles this for you.

2. No Training Costs

Even the most advanced equipment isn’t very useful without people who know how to use it. Proper training is essential to not only produce a high-quality product, but also to protect employees from hazards. Training employees to use machine shop equipment takes time. However, machine shop clients don’t have to worry about this aspect of the job.

3. Work With Experts

The right training will show someone how to use advanced milling, turning, or similar machines, but it’s experience that allows them to produce exceptional products at great speed. Working with experts at a machine shop, you can rest assured that your project is in good hands. Look for a job shop that has experience working with your products and materials, so there’s no trial-and-error phase.

4. Reduce Liability

Metalworking equipment poses some obvious hazards. Workers who don’t know how to use or install these machines properly can be exposed to serious risk. Machine shops protect themselves and their workers with the right insurance and employee benefits, as well as training to ensure a safe workplace. Working with a job shop for metal machined parts, you don’t have to take on any of this liability yourself.

5. Design Assistance

There are often multiple ways to machine a part, but usually one way that is most efficient in terms of materials and time. Making one or two small changes to a design can make the machining process more efficient and save thousands of dollars in the long run. With CNC machining, it’s easy to make small changes to a design and then produce an accurate prototype or product. A design expert knows how to make these changes and make your parts with maximum efficiency.

6. Existing Partnerships

Whether you are working with stainless steel, nickel alloys, titanium alloys or another metal, stock metals are expensive. Existing partnerships with suppliers can help you save money, but these take time and effort to forge. Instead of forging these partnerships yourself with stock suppliers, work with a job shop that already has strong supplier relationships.

7. Get the Latest Tech

Job shops specialize in machining services and they have the resources and expertise to get the latest equipment for the job. When you find a job shop that specializes in what you do, you can take advantage of the latest equipment and techniques for doing it. This ultimately means your parts can be created faster, with fewer errors and with the highest level of precision.

There are many reasons to use a job shop for metal machined parts. The right job shop will have the equipment and experience necessary to complete your job quickly and within a reasonable budget. If you have questions about metal machined parts for an upcoming project, get in touch. We’d be happy to tell you more about our job shop, our expertise, design assistance, and more.

4 Cost-Cutting Tactics for Metal Machined Parts

Balancing costs and quality is an ongoing production struggle. It can be difficult to know where to cut costs that won’t sacrifice the quality of your project. When working with metal machined parts, there are a few ways to meet your budget while still producing a high-quality component. As you examine your project’s bottom line, consider these cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts

4 Cost-Cutting Tactics for Metal Machined Parts

1. Choose the Right Materials

This is the first and one of the best cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts. While quality is essential—and the materials you use are a key factor in quality construction—it’s important to balance quality and expense. In many cases, you can still get the functionality you need from your metal machined parts while still cutting costs.

To find the right material for the job, it’s important to address the part’s function and utility. This way, your part will still function the way that it’s supposed to, without adding extra expense from materials that are unnecessarily tough or complex. For example, if your component is going to be used indoors and won’t be subject to intense temperature extremes or moisture, a carbon alloy will probably meet your needs, and stainless steel may add unnecessary expense.

Consider the following to guide your decisions about materials:

  • Force: In the component’s common and regular use, what type of force will it be subjected to? This includes regular wear and tear or abrasion, weight and pressure, pushing or pulling, and more. If the component must withstand heavy force in its regular use, a tough steel will be important, but a component that won’t see intense use can be made with a lighter, more affordable alloy.
  • Temperature: Temperature considerations are especially important for metal machined parts. Temperature swings will cause some metals to expand, contract or warp significantly, while other metals will hold their shape more consistently. Consider any aspect that might create temperature swings, such as friction, outdoor use, cooling fluids or heating elements, and more.
  • Corrosion: All metals corrode in some form, though some are much more resistant to it than others. If the metal machined part will be subjected to moisture, including washing water, steam, high humidity and other aspects, the metal must be resistant to corrosion. If the component will be mostly enclosed and used indoors where corrosion will be much slower, corrosion resistance probably won’t add much value to the component.

2. Leverage Supplier Relationships

Once you’ve decided on the right material for the job, the next step is deciding where to source the material. If you’re working with a subcontractor for the components, they have existing metal supplier relationships that they can leverage. Or, if you’re subcontracting the labor, but you already have valuable supplier partnerships, you can supply the materials yourself. Choosing the right type of contract and partnership can help you take advantage of the skills and equipment you need.

3. Plan Your Purchases Carefully

Pre-planning is another important cost-cutting tactic for metal machined parts. With a reliable timetable and production schedule in mind, you can take advantage of blanket purchases. These pre-arranged orders with delivery across multiple dates can help your manufacturing partner plan production more easily, and they can help to cut costs.

With a good idea of your production needs, you can also place a bulk order, which can reduce per-unit costs for metal machined parts significantly. Set up costs often account for the bulk of an overall order’s expense, and bulk orders help to spread these expenses across more units. You benefit from economies of scale, and you can be more confident that you will have the components that you need when you need them.

4. Simplify Your Design

Even small details can quickly add expenses for metal machined parts. Simplifying your design is one of the most effective cost-cutting tactics for metal machined parts. Small divots, cuts or holes that are excessively delicate or excessively deep creates unnecessary complexity and expense. Once again, a clear understanding of the component’s common use can help to streamline the design and cut costs.

If you’re unsure how to streamline or simplify your component’s design, talk to an experienced metal fabricating partner. With a detailed understanding of the machines and processes needed to produce the part, an experienced fabrication partner can suggest ways to simplify the design without sacrificing product quality or utility.

Working with an experienced manufacturing partner can help you cut costs on metal machined parts in multiple ways. Experienced designers, engineers, fabricators and project managers can all help to keep your project on-time and on-budget, while still delivering on quality and consistency.

5 Best Materials to Use for Heavy Machinery Equipment Parts

With such a vast selection of materials to choose from, it’s important that you select one that is right for your heavy machining equipment part. Each material has a list of pros and cons that come along with them, ranging from price to strength and durability. So, how do you know which material is right for your part? Learn more about the most widely-used materials below.

1. Carbon Alloys

Carbon alloys are beneficial to use when creating machinery parts due to its corrosion resistance and extreme temperature stability. The carbon content in our alloys is below 5% by weight, meaning the steel can achieve a greater weldability and formability but still maintain the strength of steel. Carbon alloys are commonly used for parts that require corrosion resistance, strength and wear resistant properties.

2. Aluminum

On the other hand, aluminum can be used for parts that don’t require much strength. Due to the lack of density in aluminum, the energy output for machining is fairly low compared to machining other materials. If your machine has weight restrictions, using aluminum parts may prove to be beneficial due to its low density and light weight. Aluminum also has excellent corrosion resistance, and is easy to work with heavy machinery due to its thermal and electrical conductivity. Because of its lightweight and general availability, aluminum is fairly inexpensive compared to other metals.

3. Brass

Along with having great strength and being resistant to corrosion, brass is often used for heavy machinery that is visible to others due to its favorable appearance and color. Brass is also very resistant to rust, making it a favorable material for machines that will be operating near water or in high humidity atmospheres. Brass is known as being extremely malleable, so it can be easily transformed into any part that you may need. Although regularly more expensive than other materials, it may be easier to work with depending on the part you need for your heavy machining product.

4. Stainless Steel

One of the most widely used metals for machining purposes today is stainless steel. Although it’s very popular, it may be hard to machine due to its intense strength and hardness. However, because of its hardness, it is a great material for heavy machinery that will be used outdoors, as it has a low corrosive property as well. Stainless steel also has a high resistance to heat, allowing it to retain strength at high temperatures.

5. Plastics

Plastic can be used for a variety of different purposes, including creating parts for heavy machinery. Although plastic isn’t very heat resistant due to its low melting temperature, its light weight and high versatility makes it an easy-to-use material for majority of machine parts. Because plastic is generally lower is strength, it would be beneficial to use it for a machine that requires light weight material.