In industrial processes, manufacturing could either take a conventional or non-conventional approach. A conventional approach involves direct contact between the tool and the workpiece. This is the type of scenario that plays out in the machine shop where the professional uses a hammer or wrench on a workpiece. In this case, there is physical contact between the tool and the material being worked on. But the reverse is the case in the non-conventional machine shop.
In non-conventional machining, the machining process involves the use of modern tools and advanced technology to go about the manufacturing process. In this method, there is no physical contact between the tool and the workpiece. Only specialized tools are used in this case such as infrared beams, electric beams, laser beams, plasma cutting tools, and the like. Non-conventional machining has a lot of advantages over conventional machining methods as it provides precision cutting and manufacturing procedures that eliminate errors in the workshop.
The Process of Non-conventional Machining
The steps to take in non-conventional machining depend on the piece to be worked on. This will determine the manufacturing process to apply and ultimately the necessary steps to take in the material production. The process involves the use of energy which could be mechanical, chemical, or physical energy. The energy applied is usually in the form of light, sound, electricity, heat, and magnetism. This brings about a change or deformation on the material the energy is acted upon.
Different Methods of Non-Conventional Machining
There are a variety of non-conventional manufacturing methods used in the machine shop in the manufacturing process. And the method to be used will depend on the desired machining procedure required in the manufacturing process. Some of the common methods used include
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM)
EDM is usually applied in cutting and forming processes that do not require a hands-on approach. It follows the use of electrical, thermal, and in certain cases electrochemical energy to bring about material formation. It utilizes a conductive material etched with an electric erosion which is brought about by the discharge of pulse between two poles inserted in a working fluid.
It doesn’t involve the use of a cutting force and results in no defects such as marks, grooves, and burrs on the tool. And it is applied in the automation process that involves bulk manufacturing. This page has more details about EDM procedures.
This non-conventional machining process involves the use of light energy to impact a focal point with high energy density from a lens that helps to vaporize or melt the material to achieve the result. The process is quick and doesn’t involve much material waste. This makes it ideal for use in cost-effective mass-scale production.
In the machine shop, this process is used in welding aircraft wings, high-grade automobile parts, and spacecraft fuselage. This process is used industrially in operations such as laser marking, laser cutting, laser welding, micro-machining, surface modification, and photochemical deposition.
Electron Beam Machining
EBM involves the use of ionization or thermal effect on electron beams to bring about the machining of material industrially. It features precise and fast wedding speeds, a large weld width ratio, small working deformation, and small thermal impact zones. The procedure brings about high productivity, less pollution and is mostly employed in the manufacture of narrow slits and micro holes in material pieces. It is used largely in the automobile industry for fine lithography procedures and welding.
Plasma Arc Machining
This method involves creating a plasma arc with the help of heat energy to weld, cut, and spray non-metals and metals to create workpieces industrially. It is used mainly to weld thin sheets and foils which requires single-side welding. It is not ideal for indoor welding as it is a complex procedure that involves large gas consumption. This process is ideal in the manufacture of cutting-edge industrial products and the military industry.
Industrially, it is used for welding alloy steel, copper and copper alloy, stainless steel, titanium, and titanium alloy, and molybdenum. This link https://www.theengineerspost.com/plasma-arc-machining/ has more on the process involved in plasma arc manufacturing operations.
Machine shop processes that involve the use of chemical operations utilize salt solutions, alkali, and acids to dissolve and corrode material pieces. It is ideal for use in a chemical operation that requires working on the surface of the workpiece to create materials of precise shapes and sizes. It is best for large-scale manufacture which requires producing similar pieces at a fast pace. The process is easy to operate and can be conducted indoors in a safe working environment.
Ion Beam Manufacturing
Ion beam manufacturing also follows a non-conventional machining procedure that uses ion steam generated from an ion source to focus and accelerate ion beams on a workpiece. The result is a procedure that leaves great pollution, deformation, and stress. It is a high-cost operation that is used industrially in procedures such as etching air bearings on dynamic pressure motors and gyroscopes. It can also be used in etching high-precision graphics like in the case of optoelectronic devices, optical integrated devices, and integrated circuits.
Implementing Non-conventional Machining Processes in the Machine Shop
First off, design elements come to play either by the use of computer-aided design or a pre-sketch of the proposed finished material. After which, the ideal machining operation will be determined by the engineering team as explained by the team at UHI Group with more than 40 years of experience in engineering manufacturing. The most effective and low-cost procedure is mostly considered. But many engineering facilities are critical about following the emission standards and reducing material pollution in the workplace.
In situations where combining several machining operations or in bulk manufacturing processes there is more energy utilization. Still, measures are put in place to reduce material waste and conserve energy.
Non-conventional industrial processes require a hand-free procedure that usually involves the use of costly machines to create pieces from an engineering material. More modern and complex tools bring about the ease of the manufacturing process. And the high precision and automation nature of the process usually results in low-error margins. But it does result in high energy emissions.