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Machining is an essential phase to many industrial processes. It is the practice of fashioning raw material(usually metal or plastic) into a desired model. The pieces are fashioned by means of subtraction of a single, solid piece of material. When the desired shape is finished being sculpted, it does not have any additional pieces to hold it together. It remains a solid piece and cannot be disassembled by ordinary means.
These machine components are the most fundamental pieces of all machinery. They must be made from durable materials and be very precisely cut to ensure that there is minimal imbalances between them. The slightest errors can cause serious damage to the entire piece of machinery as a whole. This is why machinists are tremendously skilled workers. The engineering tolerance that they work with is far lower than standard tolerances. The variables that are accounted for in the tolerance go beyond just physical dimensions of the components. Expanding of material due to temperature change, vibrations and even small amounts of humidity must be carefully factored into the creation process.
The machine shops in which the machinists work are filled with large computers, devices, and tools to manufacture the machine parts. The machinists use the advantages of the shop to follow a blueprint. It is possible that they drew up the blueprints or they were given to them by an engineer. If the shapes are typical, machinery in the shop can create the component with minimal configuration. When the shapes get more complex, the machinists must configure their devices using a process called Computerized Numerical Control(CNC). CNC is the logical process of configuring toolsets to correctly strip away the correct amount of material, cut at the correct angles, and in a specific order. Since machines can do work significantly faster than a human can, machine shops can mass-produce intricate shapes with minimal labor required post-configuration.
During CNC, machining operations are deliberately implemented to design the finished product. The most basic operations are turning, milling, and drilling. Turning is what the word says it is, turning; The material is properly turned to accommodate the cutting tool. Milling can be described as a removal of layers to create a shape. Drilling is the process of producing holes in an object. These three fundamental operations in combination with other miscellaneous operations is what is actually being physically done to the piece of material.
Today, machine shops are predominantly automated. Human labor can only create intricate materials so quickly and the need for heavy equipment to mass-produce becomes more and more imperative. There may not be many people working inside the shops but that does not diminish their importance. According to IBISWorld, Machine Shop Services were a 47 Billion dollar business in 2015 and is poised to grow into the future. Without them, we would not have cars, planes, home appliances, and any other piece of machinery one can think of. They are a part of the manufacturing industry that isn’t going anywhere.
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