Have you ever wondered what made skyscrapers and suspension bridges possible? Was it the invention of heavy industrial equipment or advancements in mechanical engineering? What about airplanes, ships, buses, and trains? What parts are critical to making airplanes strong and durable enough to carry daily transatlantic flights? What types of technologies helped to create our "cutting edge", modern world?
Machining, at its core, includes any subtractive process that cuts material to shape into a useful object. Technological advancements in the last century has allowed inventors and engineers to continually improve both consumer and industrial products with enhanced materials and geometries. The evolution of machining from has helped to transform both everyday consumer electronics, as well as niche industry equipment to build the modern world.
Traditional machining equipment includes lathes, mills, drills, and grinds. Modern factories have invested in multi-axis computer numerical control (CNC) machines so that computers are operating exact cuts. Compared to a manual machinist removing raw materials by hand or via power tools, CNC technology is an early foundation for manufacturing automation. These cutting machines can now turn, bore, and ream by following programming code. Shaping parts and finishing surface textures are more exact, repeatable, and less prone to human-error. Apple's investment in CNC technology and how CNC milling has been applied to MacBook housing can also be viewed on Youtube.
Precision manufacturers have invested in five additional cutting technologies. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Raw material size, thickness, and heat sensitivity are all considered when choosing the right approach. Here is an overview of what's possible in a modern manufacturing factory with advanced cutting through extreme thermal processes or with particles:
The focused beam of super high-energy light, or laser, was invented in 1958. While widely known for it medical applications, carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are often used in industrial cutting and welding.
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