End-to-End Plastic Manufacturing: An Integrated Process
At Cox Wokingham, CNC Machining forms an essential part of a holistic plastic manufacturing process. This process, which leverages the diverse range of the capabilities available at Cox Wokingham, can be broadly summarised as containing the following stages of production:
- Initial component design, including concept support, material selection, and prototyping
- Practical manufacturing via methods such as high pressure forming, vacuum forming, and fabrication
- Product refinement and finishing (through the CNC machining process – as explored below)
- Assembly and sub-assembly of components (if required)
- And finally, logistical support such as packing, despatch, and delivery.
The result of this holistic, integrated approach to the plastic manufacturing process is hassle-free plastic component manufacturing from a supplier who can act as a full supply chain partner.
This means comprehensive project oversight from the beginning to the end, with the experience and expertise of Cox Wokingham ensuring success within every stage of the process.
Put simply, the result is happy customers.
Now, to explore why our integrated process is effective, let us turn our attention to one specific and fascinating function of this overarching process: CNC machining.
What is CNC Machining?
CNC machining is a method of production that can be utilised to create highly detailed outputs. ‘CNC’ stands for computer numerical control – which refers to the method of machining used, whereby (via coding software) numbers are programmed into a computer. These numbers, which define the movements of the mechanical elements within the process, form the instructions dictated to the CNC machine so as to produce the desired outcome.
The numerical control aspect of CNC machining precisely determines where the machine will make its cuts when, for example, working on a flat panel production element. The instructions also define where any drilling or countersinking takes place and the specific dimensions that these actions follow. This means that the outputs produced by the CNC machining process are able to remain extremely close to complex specifications and drawing dimensions (which is to say that they are made to a remarkably tight tolerance).
For instance, at Cox Wokingham, we have previously worked on crucial components within the aviation field – such as in creating parts used within the ejector seats of aeroplanes – where the machined outputs were produced to within a 0.01-millimetre tolerance. This level of precision and detail is absolutely essential when working on components that are to be used within fields where the margin for error is nonexistent.
The Benefits of CNC Machining
The ability of the CNC machining process to produce extremely precise outputs at incredibly tight tolerances arguably constitutes its primary benefit – ‘arguably’, because the method comes bundled with a host of other crucial advantages. CNC machining allows product designers to have the highest possible confidence that the specifications for production output that they create will be rigorously adhered to.
The importance of this cannot be overstated as, put simply, outputs which are made precisely to specification will act the way they are supposed to when they are required for use. Say, for example, the components used across the aerospace industry were produced with a somewhat lacklustre attention to detail – the ramifications would prove catastrophic.
Moreover, related to CNC machining’s ability to remain in very close proximity to complicated specifications is another key advantage of the method, namely: the CNC process allows for the creation of highly detailed, multifunctional products. For example, the CNC machines available at Cox Wokingham have the ability to produce outputs via both 3 and 5 axis machining. Extra dimensions (axes) – planes of machine movement – result in CNC machining having the ability to add immense detail to raw production inputs.
These details stem from CNC machining’s diverse capacities of operation, which includes everything from simple trimming, through to drilling, countersinking, and polishing. The multifunctional application of the CNC machining process itself is mirrored within the multifunctional products that the process creates.
Thus, by utilising the myriad options available within CNC machining, it is possible to enhance a product’s finish with detail and precision – meaning it can be leveraged within a variety of real-world applications. For instance, as well as the aforementioned aviation components, CNC machining can be used to produce outputs as diverse as turbines, engine blocks, decorative items, tools, bus windows, and artwork – to name but a few.
CNC Machining at Cox Wokingham
At Cox Wokingham, we have invested heavily in our CNC machining capabilities over recent years so that, as well as the 3 and 5 axis machining available as discussed previously, we are able to process inputs over a large 2m x 1m bed size.
Furthermore, by continually monitoring advancements in the CNC machining field (and making additional investment wherever appropriate), our acquisition of new technology means that we are now able to offer production which utilises a 20-position carousel. This allows for the efficient swapping of tools – such as drill bits and finishers – further extending the potential application of CNC machining in creating multifunctional products.