A Guide to Toolmaking and Precision Machining

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Technology has been improving the machines and gadgets we use in our day to day life. Starting with the huge gramophones in the olden days from which we used to hear music, today’s technology has shrunk the gramophone to a iPod that fits in the palm of your hand. The technological advances have created a need to make things better and better things to be their best. This metamorphism of technology has led to the evolution of machining, pushing it from the level of micro accuracy to the level of nano accuracy. New generation machines are no longer manually controlled and operated; the computer has taken control over them now. New generation machines are now capable of achieving accuracy levels which were only talked about a decade ago.

A part or component is manufactured from its blank stage on various machines to attain its final shape. Machines normally remove material from a blank in order to provide the required shape. Each kind of machine removes material in a specific way to the required dimensions as controlled by the operator of the machine. Every type of machine requires its own unique type of tooling that aids in the material removal.

Lathe - The Mother of Machines

If the wheel was the first invention that made mankind evolve, then the lathe can be considered the best invention that made machines evolve. The lathe can also be credited for having refined the wheel to the best circle possible. Lathe machines in general are used to produce circular components. The component is made to rotate and a tool is used to remove the material as required by the user.

The tooling in the lathe is confined to a single point tool only. The single point tool is normally mounted on the toolpost of the lathe. Specially designed single point tools for specific processes like threading can also be mounted on the tool post of a lathe.

Milling Machines

Think of any shape, square, rectangle, concave, or convex curvature, on a surface, slots in shafts, etc. The one machine that can perform all of these cutting actions is the milling machine. Milling machines are available in a range of sizes varying from bench tops to floor type machines.

Milling cutters are quite unique in construction due to the fact that the milling machine can be operated as a horizontal as well as a vertical machine. The cutters are hence designed in horizontal and vertical versions separately.

Drilling Machines

Think of making any type of hole in a component from a straight hole or counter sunk hole or a tapped hole, a drilling machine is surely capable of doing it. Adding attachments to the drilling machine like an indexing table can enhance the capability of the drilling machine to produce really precision holes on components.

The common types of tooling used in the drilling machines are drills and Taps. Drills are basically used to produce a hole. A tap is used to produce a threaded hole.

Broaching Machines

Broaching machines are capable of producing complex internal and external shapes by progressive removal of material from the part. The internal keys or splines found in the automobile gears are the best examples of a broaching operation.

Broaching machines require a unique type of tooling known as broaches, which are quite costly. The broach tool provides a good amount of precision and accuracy in the broaching process

Gear Manufacturing Machines

Gears are positive drive transmission elements that require special kinds of machines for production. The precision machining of gears is very important and is catered by machines like gear hobbing, gear shaping, etc.

CNC Machines

CNC machines are controlled by a computer. The movement of the tool and the workpiece are controlled by means of a computer. The motion system is developed in such a way that the movements of the tool and the workpiece can take place at very high speeds. This high speed enables high speed machining with higher accuracies. Every precision machine like lathes and milling machines can be controlled by a computer today.

Tooling for Machines

Any basic machine will not be able to produce a precision component utilizing its basic features. Special tooling attachments are required to be used along with the machine in order to produce precision components. Jigs and fixtures are different kinds of attachments (that many assume are actually the same part) that enhance the accuracy and productivity of the machine. The tool materials, material characteristics and the cutting parameters in the machining process have a significant role in providing precision components.


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