“Precision instruments are designed to achieve an idea, dimensional precision, where perfection is impossible. There is no perfectly shaped part of the motorcycle and never will be, but when you come as close as these instruments take you, remarkable things happen, and you go flying across the countryside under a power that would be called magic if it were not so completely rational in every way.“
Robert M. Pirsig
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 1974
While perfection still remains impossible, precision engineering advances since Pirsig penned his book are as magical as the motorcycling he described. Technology has progressed along two converging paths: machines and the software that controls them. The roads meet at modern 5-axis precision machining.
Superior precision engineering companies require better machines
The dimensional precision that Pirsig cites refers to three perpendicular axes, x, y and z. That is, motion forward and back, side to side and up and down. The modern magic occurs with the addition of two rotational axes, a and b.
Utilising these five axes, cutting tools approach a job from all and any directions, while remaining tangent to the cutting surface. You can remove more material at each tool point, with less time required to shape your specified geometries. Unique to 5-axis machines is a swivel range of the b axis. On a DMG Mori 60 Evolution, it is defined as an impressive minus 5 degrees to 110 degrees. Precision magic!
Those two additional axes, eliminate many a step for a myriad of complex geometries. Therefore the chance for errors is decreased.
- You will require fewer fixtures.
- Repositioning is often unnecessary.
- Consistent alignment allows for increased accuracy.
- Tighter tolerances
- Superior finishes
Shorter cutting tools can be employed. This means less vibration, a reduced chance of variation and in turn, tighter tolerances. These tools also deliver a superior finish, reducing or eliminating the need for hand finishing. Precision engineering magic!
Casting or precision?
Complex parts that were once produced through the casting process are now routinely machined. The difference is like chalk and cheese.
The result? Smoother finishes and tighter tolerances!
Holes and undercutting
If your parts feature a series of holes with compound angles, you can drill them quickly and accurately on a 5-axis machine. Undercutting is now a simple task, and you can readily cut complex cores and cavities for complex components.
With modern precision engineering magic, you maintain the quality even as complexity increases.
As computing power has grown at a mind-bending rate, machining equipment now features ultrafast central processing units (CPUs). The newer, faster hardware enhances system output and supports high-speed processing. Optical fibre now being used for data transmission optimises communication to machining equipment. Again increased precision is the result. Even more magic!
New CPUs also reduce the number of components necessary to implement applications. This simplification decreases the probability of error and increases the quality of the final product. It also allows the production of parts at a lower cost.
There are also new functions that decrease vibrations during high-speed machining. In conjunction with the use of shorter tools, the quality of the work is further increased. And the magic keeps on coming…
Machines like the Hardinge XR 600 SAX fill the requirements of industry sectors such as medical, mould, automotive, tool and die and, as Pirsig no doubt dreamed, motorsports. The size of batches manufactured are limitless.
New spindle technology allows “on-the-fly” grease lubrication. This innovation results in both greater rigidity and better rates of metal removal. Machines can run at high speed for extended periods of time. Precision engineering magic piled upon precision magic!
As the capabilities of machines have increased, the programming that controls them has improved as well. Open Mind continue to advance their hyperMill software used to control the 5-axis machines at Axis Precision Engineering Components. Features such as the drilling of holes, formation of pockets and roughing are improved with each release.
The technological giant leaps in the 40+ years since Pirsig visualised his magical flight over the countryside have brought the quality of precision-machined components ever closer to perfection. Combined with the essential elements of engineering expertise and reliable delivery, you can transform the exacting standards of your designs into market-ready realities.
At Axis we haven’t achieved the impossible, we’re not perfect. But with precision engineering magic like that described here, Axis are the right precision engineering services supplier for you!
Axis increase your margin!
If you want remarkable things to happen when you assemble your components, you need a high quality supplier. And if you want to make a good profit, you need a reliable supplier. Axis are both and MORE!