CNC Machining: Reducing Operating Costs & Boosting Efficiency

By February 6, 2024No Comments
CNC Machining

How much are inefficiencies in your CNC machining operations costing you? When it comes to efficient manufacturing, optimizing costs and smoothing workflows is critical for companies of all shapes and sizes to not just survive, but thrive.

Thankfully, companies using CNC machining can drastically cut operating expenses and boost efficiency with a few strategic moves.

As you likely know, CNC machining is widely used in industries where quality, accuracy, and speed are essential, including aerospace, automotive, medical, and defense. But CNC machining can be costly and inefficient if tool selection, material and design choices, and lean manufacturing principles aren’t optimized properly and adhered to.

What is CNC Machining?

For an overview of CNC machining, CNC stands for “computer numerical control,” meaning the machines are programmed with a set of instructions or code that tells them how to move and operate.

CNC machines can carry out a number of operations such as drilling, milling, turning, and cutting, depending on the type and configuration of the machine. They can work with several material types based on the tool and desired outcome, from metals and plastics to wood and composites.

CNC machining has plenty of advantages over conventional machining, including higher precision, less waste, more flexibility and versatility, and higher levels of overall safety and quality. To make the most of these benefits, however, manufacturers need to optimize certain processes.

CNC Machining & Cost Reduction

CNC machining flaunts a slew of benefits alongside certain challenges and expenses, such as high initial investment, high energy consumption, and high material waste.

Knowing this, it’s important to optimize CNC machining to control costs while maintaining an efficient manufacturing operation. Here are some key factors that impact cost and efficiency, and strategies to address them:

Tool Selection & Toolpath

The choice of tool and toolpath can have a significant impact on the quality and speed of your machining processes, as well as the wear and tear of the machine and the tool.

Choosing the right tools and designing optimal toolpaths helps reduce machining time, improve surface finish, and extend tool life. Up-to-date software tools are typically used for designing, testing, and optimizing parameters before machining even begins, which prevents early errors from snowballing into critical issues down the line.

Some key factors to consider when selecting a tool and toolpath are material properties, part geometries, and machining strategies. Harder materials, for example, need heavier cutting than softer ones. Complex shapes need intricate toolpaths, and simple shapes call for efficient ones. Machining strategies like climb milling can produce better finishes despite accelerated tool wear, and simulation and monitoring tools help dial in ideal parameters.

These types of choices are dependent on material properties and part geometries, and will ultimately guide your CNC machining strategies.

Choosing Material & Design

The material and design choices for a part also impact the cost and speed of your machining processes, along with the aesthetics, ergonomics, and performance criteria. Optimal choices will keep material expenses and waste down, so that functional requirements are met cost-effectively.

Seeing as design complexity directly affects cycle times and tooling requirements, simpler, more manufacturable designs are favored for streamlined machining processes.

Simulation software is commonly used to explore tradeoffs and find the best material and design options that fit your budget while meeting functional standards. Principles of design for manufacturing (DFM) also help engineers simplify and standardize parts for quicker production at controllable costs.

Lean Manufacturing Principles

Lastly, lean manufacturing principles help eliminate non-value-adding waste from production with a focus on customer value. Lean manufacturing is a methodology coined in the 1980s that promotes five core principles: value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, establishing a pull system, and the pursuit of perfection.

With these principles in mind, manufacturers can further reduce waste and trim down on bottlenecks through strategies such as:

  • Process Mapping: Visually mapping all manufacturing steps from raw material to finished part can reveal opportunities to cut waste.
  • Just-in-Time Practices: Only producing what is needed, when it is needed reduces inventory waste, storage needs, and related costs.
  • Bottleneck Reduction: Identifying and alleviating bottlenecks streamlines material flows. Smaller production batches also help here.
  • Quality Control: Closely monitoring processes allows for quicker identification and correction of potential defects.

Inefficiencies can seriously impact costs and sustainability for CNC machining processes, but manufacturers aren’t without options. Taking strategic steps like optimizing toolpaths, material and design choices, and workflows using simulations and lean principles can yield dramatic reductions in operating expenses while smoothing workflows – allowing for a truly efficient manufacturing process.

With the right manufacturing partner, companies can vastly improve their time-to-market while meeting today’s OEM standards. Contact Dalrada Precision Manufacturing today to learn more about our custom manufacturing solutions.

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