For thousands of years, casting, which involves pouring a liquid material into a mold and letting it harden, has been a popular manufacturing method. It is no longer a necessary step in the manufacturing process, thanks to advancements in complicated CNC machining tools and technology.
On the other hand, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is a sophisticated machining method that may be used to make a variety of items. Each task is completed by computer-assisted devices using design software such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD).
Problems to Watch Out For
- Your casting’s tooling has worn out and the cost of maintaining the mould is unreasonably high
- You have a legacy part that has outlived its useful life and no longer requires high-volume manufacture.
- You are tired of dealing with issues like porosity, structural instability, and extended lead times in your castings.
If you’re facing the above problems, then machining might be the right choice for you. However, let us first understand if it is really necessary to cast your parts, or can you rely completely on contract machining?
Advantages of Switching From Casting to Machining
Since casting lead times are so long these days (6+ months), it has been discovered that you can produce low-volume products from solid metal faster, cheaper, and better in the majority of circumstances.
Here are some reasons why you might consider contract machining instead of casting:
Cost and Time Effective
You can now conduct “lights-out manufacturing” and run fully automated machines around the clock thanks to advancements in 5-axis machining technology. If you are lucky, most casting houses have minimum lead periods of 2-4 months. Those same parts, on the other hand, can be machined in 6-8 weeks or less. Customers benefit from cheaper expenses as a result of this degree of efficiency.
No Minimum Run Requirements
Low-volume cast parts aren’t cost-effective due to the high cost of tooling. CNC machining, on the other hand, is ideal for quantities of 1,000 or fewer parts. Even in volumes of 40,000-50,000, some of the parts we produce are still less expensive than if they were cast.
Ability to Produce Better Quality Parts
Solid metal pieces are less porous and have superior structural integrity than parts made of liquid materials. You can have a lot more control over the design of the part when you convert it from casting to CNC machining. You have the ability to add or remove features that were previously impossible to cast. In most cases, you can attain tighter tolerances as well.
Streamlining the Supply Chain
Before being supplied to clients, cast parts nearly invariably require CNC machining, painting, finishing, and maybe even assembly. You can oversee the entire supply chain, but it could be easier to stop using the casting step altogether. Customers save money on shipping expenses and lead times when you handle more of the process in-house. There’s also a lower likelihood of parts being destroyed during shipping and handling.
A customer-focused contract manufacturing firm will never try to coerce you into a solution that doesn’t work for you. However, if you find a possibility to go from casting to CNC machining, it is always a good idea to consider the recommendations made to you.
It is always preferable to include machine shop services early in your process so that they can collaborate on the design for the manufacturing phase. Even if you decide that casting the part first is the best option for you, it is best to work with the casting house directly from the start.