The Long History The Automobile is an integrated application of multiple technologies. It is one of the significant symbols of modern industrial civilization. The iconic Ford Model T has started mass production since 1908. Even though manual production and assembly are the role of automotive manufacturing, the manufacturing is becoming more mechanized. Before the CNC (Computer Numerical Control), the manual mechanists are the mainstream in auto manufacturing. The precision between auto parts is hard to control, which makes the engine in an unstable situation. In 1952, Richard Kegg, in collaboration with MIT, developed the first CNC milling machine. CNC machine has been introduced in the aerospace industry since 1955. After that, CNC machining is used in the automotive industry.
Why Need CNC? Customization: CNC turns the drawings into kinds of operational orders, which lower the learning cost and shorten the production time. Precision: When it comes to operations like drilling, boring, cutting, etc. CNC machining is capable of choosing the most suitable position to operate. CNC machining can achieve tight tolerance by the computer control. Speed: The featured automation saves time and labor costs compared to manual machines. Repeatability: The repeatability from machine like a high-end version of assembly line work. It is available in keeping the same in a series of producing loops. The absolute precision ensures the same standard for each automobile.
Application in Automobiles There are around 30,000 parts in an automobile. All the 30,000 parts can be divided into engine system, car body, drive system, chassis system, electrical and electronic system by function. By material, the parts can also be divided into 70% metal parts and 30% non-metal parts. More than 90% of parts have a close connection with CNC machining.
Rapid Prototype Before the automobile project is put into mass production or use, any change needs to be verified. The prototypes are always the most efficient and practical way. Even the 3D printing is becoming more and more popular for rapid prototyping, CNC machining is still an irreplaceable way for parts that need to be assembled and operated precisely. Moreover, the materials and finishing choices of CNC are wider than 3D printing.
Customization Car enthusiast feels passionate about vintage car. They will encounter a situation where parts from the car can’t be found in the market. CNC machining is here to provide customized services for any part. The intensity of the car race accelerates the birth of competition cars and refitted vehicles. The auto parts from those cars are newly designed and may not exist, which need CNC for quick production.
Gearbox Gearbox is the second stage of the transmission system in an automobile. It consists of various shafts and gears. The gearbox takes the power from engines and a series of gears to give the vehicle efficient power or speed. Only CNC machining can provide precise and reliable shafts and gear components. Drive Axle The drive axle delivers the power from the gearbox and engine to the wheels. The two hypoid gears from the drive axle are produced by CNC to ensure high precision. Meanwhile, the differential and bevel gear group are processing by CNC for a high level of stable working situation.
Instrument Panel A precise frame from raw plastic material is necessary when assembly with gas gauge, indicator lights, speedometer, etc.
Cylinder Head The cylinder head is on the top of the engine. Such heads cover the internal combustion engine for housing of intake, exhaust valves, and springs. Most cylinder heads are made of cast iron by CNC. Even the cast iron is durable and inexpensive, it is heavy and inefficient for heat dissipation. Car with excellent performance and competition cars usually use aluminum cylinder heads by CNC.
Starter Motor The starter motor is the heart of an automobile. It is the original power for the whole system operation. The automobile won’t turn or crank when the motor fails.
Automotive Lighting System As the eye-catching part, the design of the lighting system is closely linked to the automotive body appearance, but also a key role in safe driving. Suitable material, well processability, and color keep the bright and stable lighting. To achieve superior optical transmission, CNC machining is a good match to cut the clear and smooth shape.
The Future of CNC in Automotive Industry At present, automotive parts that rely on CNC machining are getting more and more. It stimulates the development of CNC to the direction of AI (Artificial Intelligence). The introduction of AI helps to reduce the stop time, self-diagnosis, and trouble-shooting. Such continuous self-monitoring and testing improve the efficiency and lower the material waste.
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