Choosing between CNC Machining and Sheet Metal Fabrication

Regardless of what material you will use to manufacture a certain product, you may need the help of an industrial tool and method that will produce and give you the exact items you will need. While there are definitely countless options out there, no one can deny the appeal of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining and sheet metal fabrication.

The thing is, there are differences between them, enabling companies to pick the method that works best for them.

The CNC Machining Process

In a nutshell, the CNC process refers to the method where industrial equipment like CNC machines is utilized to transform raw materials into a finished product. To do this, the machine is simply guided by a computer program in creating them.

CNC machining is rather versatile in that it can be used for a lot of applications, including rocket engine nozzles, aircraft parts, medical devices, and more. With this in mind, you can imagine how a lot of people and companies benefit from them.

The Sheet Metal Fabrication

If you are going to look at the different machining processes, you will notice that they are mostly used to create large parts. However, this is not the case with sheet metal fabrication. This method is ideal for creating highly detailed and intricate work, with the end product being a lot smaller.

Because of this, they are mostly used on products that range from custom, automotive, aerospace, and commercial to give you a better picture.

What Are the Main Differences between Them?

These methods may be similar, but there are still some distinct differences between them. For example, you can say that CNC machining involves the creation of parts, while sheet metal fabrication involves creating a finished product.

Another difference between them can be seen in their applications. For one, CNC machining is ideal for creating intricate parts that are difficult to make by other means. On the other hand, sheet metal fabrication is utilized to create complex geometry and is commonly used when there is a need to go around a part or to create a hard-to-reach space.

The good news is that both of them are capable of creating products that are consistent and accurate.

Both methods can also deliver the same quality of material and create a complex design with the help of a computer.

The Cost

To produce a part using CNC machining, you will need to spend a lot. The process begins with the creation of a computer-aided design. After this step, a 3-D virtual model of the product is made. However, the cost of this may be costly.

The process goes on with creating a machining model, which is never easy as it is as precise as the output. After this, a tool path is created. This will include the process of creating the cutter paths, which is done with a CAM package. Once this is done, you can use the CNC tool to cut the part.

All of these can create a large sum of money in a short period of time. Even though this is true, you need to keep in mind that this is mainly because of the complex nature of CNC machining.

In contrast, sheet metal fabrication works differently. To start, you first need to find a sheet metal fabrication shop. After this, you will need to create a computer-aided drawing of the product. Once this is done, you need to let the sheet metal shop know how you want it to be shaped and how you want it to be finished.

Conclusion

CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication are definitely two of the most popular processes in the industry. They are great for creating a finished product, regardless if it is a large or small item.

For that reason, it is important to be knowledgeable of the differences before choosing which machining process you will use.

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