Author Archives: brain

Basic CNC Milling Machine Parts

Hass CNC machine

Widely employed in subtractive manufacturing, CNC machines are fast, reliable, and complex. With computerized numerical control, CNC mills and lathes can produce parts with complex geometries for one-off practical end-use, rapid prototyping, low-volume manufacturing, or mass production.

Because of the relative sophistication of these devices, it is not uncommon to see many different brands of equipment from workshop to workshop. That being said, every CNC milling machine will have some basic components to perform the device’s primary function. This article takes a quick stab at the basic parts of a CNC milling machine, their function, and their possible location. In no particular order, here is a rundown of the standard and most common parts of a CNC milling machine:

1. Base

The base of a CNC milling machine is a cast iron platform that supports the weight of the machine from top to bottom. The base component is a part of CNC machine in contact with the ground and may double as a tank for cutting fluids, depending on the design of the machine.

2. Turret

The turret is a component of the milling machine that allows for proper rotation of the milling head along the center of the column.

3. Saddle

The saddle lies between the table and the knee. It is responsible for facilitating the movement of the workpieces along the y-axis.

4. Frame

The frame is the structural support of the CNC machine. It could be made from cast iron and supports and dampens the machine and the effects of the machining vibrations. The frame must be rigidly secured to the group to prevent workplace injuries and excess vibration resulting in machining errors.

5. Table

The table is the part of the CNC machine that holds the job and houses the job-holding devices. The table secures the workpiece and is placed atop the saddle. It contains a number of T-slots for securing jigs, workpieces, and fixtures.

Tables are moveable and receive signals from the operator through the control panel. They may be secured via vices or clamps and allow for the movement of the workpieces on the machine’s x-axis.

6. Spindle

The spindle holds the cutting tool in place and makes rotations when necessary to mobile the tool holder. From design, the tools for milling and machining will be installed in the tapered end of the spindle. Spindles have varying revolutions per minute (RPMs), which refers to the speed capacity of the spindle.

Depending on the part to be machined and the tools used, the spindle speed may vary from job to job. Spindle speeds can toggle to match the demands and properties of the workpiece to be milled. They could be self-contained cartridges or fabricated spindles.

7. Axes

The CNC milling axes are one of the most critical components in the machine. These axes are connected to the machine’s frame, providing motion in all x, y, and z-axis. The number of axes determines the number of directions the machine can move when fabricating a workpiece. 3-axis CNC can move in 3 directions while 4-axis CNC will move in an optional 4th axis.

There are also 5-axis CNC mills, but they are not very common. The motion of the axis is directed by the g-code programming as well as manual input in the control panel.

8. Knee

The knee serves to provide additional support to the saddle and table. It allows vertical movement along the z-axis while keeping the cutting tool above the workpiece. The knee also supports the material feed mechanism of the CNC machine.

9. Column

The column is a vertical support structure that joins the base and other components of the CNC machine. It also holds the turret and houses the machine’s driving motor

10. Cutting tool

The cutting tool is the component of the machine that delivers the actual cutting action. The cutting tool is attached to the column and used to machine the pieces in the manner directed by the programming or operator’s input. The systemic action of the cutting tool on the workpiece results in the final part that matches the designer’s specifications.

11. Coolant supply tubes

In the absence of a reservoir tank at the base of the CNC machine, there will be coolant supply tubes that flow from a tank to supply coolant and cutting fluids to the machine. These supply tubes are necessary for heat control and lubrication during machining.

12. Control panel

The control panel or CNC controller is a display and control panel used to give a command to the CNC milling machine. It signals the machine’s motor on how and when to move the machine’s axes. The control panel may be considered the brain of the CNC machine. It is also responsible for interpreting input codes and programming language.

13. Arbor

The Arbor is an extension of the spindle. It is responsible for mounting and rotating the cutting tool.

14. Overhanging head

The overhanging head also referred to as overhanging arm, is used to deliver electrical supply from the machine’s motor to the mechanical arm of the spindle.

Get started Premium Parts CNC prototyping in China.

At Premium Parts, we offer excellent CNC machining and rapid prototyping services run by standard and scalable equipment in China. Get in touch with us to review your new project and get a free quote.

7 Factors to Consider in Aluminium Profile Selection

Aluminum Extrusion

The versatility of aluminum is well documented; from its lightweight to affordability, ease of machining, and environmental friendliness, aluminum has been successfully used in many industries. Industrial aluminum profiles refer to the aluminum material suitable for use as a main component in industrial aluminum extrusion processes.

In the extrusion process, the chosen aluminum bar is extruded by melting the material forced into a particular die with the desired section shape. The mechanical and functional properties of the finished product depend on the selected aluminum profile. What factors then make one aluminum profile more suitable than another? These seven factors and considerations are used to highlight the differences:

1. Strength

Strength or durability refers to the ability of the aluminum profile to withstand pressure, damage, wear and tear that arises from the day-to-day use of the part as intended. It also refers to the ability of the part to withstand pressure and heat treatment. The maximum tensile strength is the amount of stretch or pulling the profile can take before its mechanical properties are permanently altered.

Generally, pure aluminum 1100 has the lowest strength, while the heat-treated alloy series of 2024 and 7075 are progressively higher in strength. The 5052 and 6061 offer medium to high mechanical strength.

2. Hardness

Hardness is different from the aluminum profile strength and is a factor in the aluminum profile’s chemical composition. The state of the aluminum profile also has a profound influence on the hardness of the profile.

The hardness matrix decreases from the 7 to 2,4,6,5,3 and 1 series in that order.

3. Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance speaks to the ability of an aluminum profile to withstand the chemical changes to its structure arising from exposure to chemical and rust conditions.

In this case, the best corrosion resistance is seen in the 1 series. Next is the 5 series, then comes the 3, 6, 2 and 7 series in that order. In clearer terms, the Alloys 1100, 5052, and 6061 have excellent to very good mechanical properties, the 3003 and 6063 have decent corrosion resistance, while the 2 series is generally poor.

4. Weldability

Weldability refers to how easily an aluminum profile can be welded. The weldability of most aluminum profiles is generally very good. However, profiles of alloys 2024, 7075, and 2011 are inferior. Alloys 3003 and 1100 have excellent welding performances. The 5 series of aluminum profiles are particularly designed for welding.

5. Machinability

Machinability performance entails the ease of forming and machining an aluminum profile. This includes cutting, forming, and turning in some instances. Generally, the machinability of each aluminum profile may be affected by heat treatment or annealing. Annealed parts are very machinable and formable, while heat-treated aluminum materials are more challenging to machine. The alloys of 2011 are excellent for machining, by the 1100, 3003, and 6061 alloys.

6. Finishing

Aluminum profiles may be coated, anodized, polished and more to obtain the desired feel, look and finish. Depending on the end-use and environmental conditions where the part may be deployed, the aluminum profile for extrusion may need specific chemical and surface treatments to deliver on performance expectations.

7. End-use

By research and experience, certain aluminum profiles are more suitable for some industries than others. For instance, the Aluminium alloy 2011 and 1100 are broadly used in general machining and metal spinning, while the 2024 and 7075 are deployed in metal spinning and aerospace industries respectively.

Aluminum alloys 3003 are widely used to fabricate food and chemical equipment, while the 5052 alloys are applied in marine fabrications. Alloys 6063 and 6061 are best suited for structural and architectural applications.


Premium Parts provides aluminum extrusion processing services for a wide array of applications in China.

Our in-house capacity can deliver quality, avoid defects like burrs and flashes and facilitate low-volume manufacturing at affordable rates. Our other portfolio of services covers 3D printing, urethane casting, injection molding, and CNC machining.

If aluminum extrusion is one of the services you’re looking to secure in manufacturing your parts, please get in touch with us to get a free quote from our expert engineers and design inspection to get started on your project.

Everything you need to know about CNC Prototyping

CNC prototyping

CNC Prototyping helps businesses to get a real-time feel of the original product before actually going into mass production to save cost, time, and energy.

In today’s era, CNC machining has been widely used to create prototypes for various industries. Various digital models created by CAD experts are used for CNC prototyping to craft a perfect design because going into the mass production phase.

CNC machining is a subtractive process where precision tools create end products depending on industry demands. CNC prototyping is extremely useful to eradicate potential problems that might pop up during the manufacturing process. In case no one addressed these setbacks, then the end result might not meet the expectations, inflicting huge time and financial losses.

In this article, we will make a closer look at rapid CNC prototyping to determine its usability for industries. Before that, let’s make a little sneak at CNC machining;

What is CNC Machining

CNC or Computer Numerical Control machining uses precision tools combined with computer-aided designs (CAD) to complete or facilitate manufacturing. The computer-controlled machining tools remove material from the workpiece to give it a final refined shape. There are two major types of CNC machining;

Milling Machine

Milling machines use rotary cutting tools staged on multiple axes to mill or remove materials from the workpieces to shape new materials.

Lathe Machines

Lathe machines rotate material against the lateral stationary cutting tools, which remove material from the piece to give it the desired geometry.

These CNC machines are used to create prototypes. Let’s now unveil what rapid CNC prototyping is and the multiple factors associated with it.

What is Rapid CNC Prototyping

CNC rapid prototyping is a widely coined term for creating prototypes using CNC machines. Basically, before going into mass production, industries seek prototypes to eradicate the potential problems.

Then selected prototype, testing, or engineering sample is chosen for full-scale production. Rapid prototyping is generally divided into two categories;

The first category prototypes are generally used as models to get the proofs of concept or obtain a rough idea about the physical object that drives the R&D process. These are weaker models and can never be introduced to stresses or strains. 3D printing machines can make these prototypes.

The second category prototypes or engineering prototypes are precisely crafted to bear the stresses. These are actually designed to check the strength and other characteristics of the final product created afterward. These are the main specialty of CNC rapid prototyping machines.

Benefits of Prototyping

The physical prototypes always have the upper hand over the digital ones in the following ways;

• Even the most unique and elegant design in CAD can’t serve the purpose of the physical object. Its importance reaches its pinnacle when business agreements are made as partners always prioritize physical sampling instead of digital.

• The exceptional speed of creating these samples further emphasizes its importance. Additionally, efficient incorporation of feedback to reach the desired outcomes comes in handy with these prototypes.

• These prototypes facilitate researchers and engineers to explore concepts in a low-risk environment at a very little price.

All these factors help businesses and industries to minimize potential design flaws that could result in severe complications later on.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Rapid CNC Prototyping

There are hundreds of benefits associated with CNC prototyping. Let’s list a very few of them;

Advantages of Rapid CNC Prototyping

1. Rapid Production

With the CNC machining, the prototyping process has been a lot easier than primitive methods of primitive prototyping. CNC prototyping service providers claim to accomplish most of the tasks within a week. Premium Parts ensures top-notch quality at the fastest possible execution according to the scope of work.

2. Precision and Accuracy

CNC prototyping can precisely mill the desired shape within a fraction of a millimeter. The precision is up to the levels that testing these samples accurately reflects the concerned product. Even bulk product with CNC machining offers consistent outcomes.

Additionally, variations to any side can be made at any stage of the prototyping process without disturbing the other ones. This makes the incorporation of feedback extremely easy.

3. No Extra Tooling

Traditional methods usually require different and customized tools for every single prototype. This extends the prototyping process from weeks to several months, which is not a feasible option. With CNC prototyping, everything is pre-installed and ready. So, rapid CNC prototyping completes the process in a matter of a few days, depending upon the complexity of the prototype required.

Premium Parts ensure completion of every CNC prototyping process at the earliest without compromising the quality.

4. Wide Range of Materials

A vast range of materials from aluminum to plastic, copper to stainless steel, and countless other options are available with CNC machining. In contrast, other methods like 3D printing lack diversity.

Premium Parts stock aluminum, brass, bronze, zinc, urethane, plastic, steel, copper, and multiple others considering their varying use in different industries.

Disadvantages of Rapid CNC Prototyping

Though this marvelous technology of CNC prototyping has countless benefits, but there are a few downsides to it. Let take a closer look to determine that either these drawbacks are strong enough to look for alternates or not;

1. Cost

Most people compare the cost of CNC prototyping with 3D printing. If that’s the case, then yes, CNC is expensive. But, if someone looks at the countless benefits associated with CNC prototyping, then that’s comparison looks worthless.

If you compare CNC prototyping with other physical prototype-making processes, CNC is way more cost-effective than any.

2. Geometric Limitations

CNC machines have a limited number of axes. Thus, highly complex prototyping might not achieve the desired precision and accuracy.

That might be the case with other CNC prototyping service providers, but Premium Parts have the most advanced machinery that can go to any extent to produce desired shapes. Though too complex prototyping is also possible with CNC, but it’s an indication of how expensive and difficult it would turn out when someone opts for such intricate designs for mass production.

The Bottom Line

Designing and executing prototypes has never been so easy, but thanks to rapid CNC prototyping for injecting precision, speed, and accuracy in the process.

Premium Parts is the best CNC prototyping service provider equipped with modern machinery, skilled workers, and top-notch professionals. From CNC milling to lathe, everything is just unified under one roof. Premium Parts is your one-stop-shop for every CNC-related need.

If you need CNC prototyping of any caliber, feel free to get in touch with us and get a quote Now!

Moving from 3D Printing to CNC Machining – When and How?

CNC machining

It is almost impossible to describe any digital manufacturing process today without imagining some form of input from 3D printing. In fact, 3D printing and additive manufacturing remain the fastest growing manufacturing technology. 3D printing has widespread uses, from basic manufacturing like jewelry and consumer electronics to advanced sectors like aeronautics, automobiles, and medical limbs (prosthetics). Because of its fantastic turnaround, cost savings, and rapid prototyping, 3D printing will continue to revolutionize product development, testing, and iteration for the years to come.

However, as amazing as 3D printing can be, it is not the preferred choice for some phases of product development and mass manufacturing ultimately. This is because 3D printing has its limits. The many advantages of the technology are better in the first phases of any product development cycle, but as soon as design iteration nears completion, most businesses switch to CNC machining. Here’s why, how, and when to do it.

When to use Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing offers excellent design flexibility and a quicker way to test new concepts and ideas. 3D printing is ideal when the product development cycle has just begun, emphasizing moving from the on-paper/digital drawings to obtaining real-life physical prototypes. These prototypes are not even close to the final product, but they serve as a basis for testing and developing the other parts of the product.

3D printing should be used in these early stages when the total number of prototypes required is only a handful (1-5 units), and cosmetic finish is not immediately a priority. Because of the affordability, these parts can be printed repeatedly without incurring any significant cost. Prototypes may even be printed on a regular desk model 3D printer.

•  When to use CNC machining

CNC machining is radically different from 3D printing. While 3D printing uses additive manufacturing technology (creating parts by building from the ground up), CNC resembles traditional machining, using subtractive means (removal of material) to get the final workpiece. It is, of course, more specialized than conventional means because of the aid of computerized numerical controls.

Generally, CNC inputs are favored when superior quality parts are required. This technology takes longer to machine a part than 3D printers and can be relatively expensive compared to 3D printing. The benefits, however, outweigh the capabilities of additive manufacturing. CNC machining delivers its cost savings on mass production. The parts are functionally and physically more trustworthy than 3D parts, which is why it is better employed when you have reached your finalized prototype stages and surpassed experimentations with 3D printing.

•  Meeting point – When, Why, and How to transition

Knowing when to transition to CNC machining may be confusing. It is often better to consider 3D printing and CNC machining as complementary technologies. For instance, automobile manufacturers may develop a new concept. To test this, they will likely use 3D printing to come up with the form and check the part’s size, fit, and compatibility. When the concept has been concluded and mass production beckons, CNC machining will be used to make a more functional prototype. This prototype will be evaluated for design iteration, application, and functionality.

The reason for transitioning into CNC machining is quite straightforward – cost, quality, and functionality. The functionality here includes strength and rigidity. The part works and maintains its function in real-life applications without cracking, deforming or causing part/machine failure. The quality aspect will include the excellent finish that CNC parts boast of, and the cost entails the lower cost of the part per unit when macro production is factored.

3D printing is best used in early to pre-finalized prototyping for 1-10 units. The technology is fast, easy to modify, accommodates design changes and delivers parts with complex geometry. However, it is not great for delivering part functionality, tight tolerances, and high-stress applications. CNC machining is favorable for final prototyping, bridge production and mass manufacturing. The parts made with CNC can accommodate tight tolerances, high strength, stress and temperature. The parts are highly functional, and the technology can work with a considerably wider array of materials than 3D printing. Because of the high CAM (model) cost of CNC, it is reserved for when a design is concluded, and production is imminent.

Move to CNC when you have stopped making major design changes, when you have started DFM, when you require more consistency in your parts and when 3D parts are not strong or functional enough for your needs, where there are tapped holes and need for tighter tolerances in your design.

Bottom Line

CNC and 3D technologies are essential tools in any product development cycle. Stick to 3D printing when prototyping requires on-the-go corrections and design has not been concluded. You simply can’t find a better option than CNC machining for mass production, low-volume market runs and final prototyping.

3D Printing and CNC prototyping at Premium Parts

Premium Parts offers professional 3D printingCNC machining and rapid prototyping service for making a wide array of product parts. At Premium Parts, we have numerous printing technologies available for use with many high-grade printing materials and filaments. Our excellent quality control systems ensure that all our deliveries are speedy and standard for every manufacturing size in both low-volume and high-volume productions. Feel free to reach out for a free quote on your project and determine the best materials and print technology to use on your next project!

Key Consideration For Choosing The Right Cnc Machine Tools

CNC tools

CNC Machine tools are the heart and soul of every machinist shop. This is why choosing the right tools to equip your shop can make or break your business. There are many considerations before concluding on what and what not to buy. From price to product quality, availability of spare parts, aftersales support, and future returns on investment (ROI), we take a look at the key considerations for selecting the right CNC tools.

• Begin with cost

Cost is the top consideration for any business. However, cost cannot be the primary driver for investing in machine tools. CNC machine tools will often be fair, premium-grade, or cheap. The differences in these grades of machines will be reflected in lifespan, strength, durability, and wear and tear. Consider the size of your CNC machine and the manufacturer grade of tools that should be used with it. Factors such as force, torque, and pressure of the machine can indicate whether the chosen tool will work properly or optimally. Avoid purchasing cheap and brittle tools as they might break or deform under the operating conditions or pressure.

In the case of premium tool manufacturers to highly rated alternatives, cost can be a driving factor. If you are familiar with a brand that can deliver dependable quality, you may choose to save cost by going for this tool over premium brand name alternatives.

• Manufacturing quality

Next, place considerations around the performance of the machine tool when manufacturing is considered. High-grade tools have some level of performance, rigidity, and durability. Low-cost machine tools may not hold up well during crashes and cause further damage to the main CNC machine. Asides from rigidity, low-cost or inferior quality tools are likely to be unable to deliver the precision and accuracy required for most CNC machine operations. Therefore, the ability to provide quality parts with high precision is a key consideration ahead of pricing. Finally, check for tighter tolerances in your machine tool as this is often an indicator of better lifespan.

• Availability of spare parts / warranty

Evaluate the machine tool and consider how easily you can obtain replacement parts, servicing, product warranty, and even aftersales support. The speed and availability of replacement parts, product warranty claims, and manufacturer response can all contribute to reduced or prolonged downtimes in the event of a problem with the machine tool. This is why you need to buy CNC machine tools that are very available on the market with genuine spares and aftermarket support.

• Safety is key

Safety is not one of the first things that come to mind when choosing CNC machine tools. However, safety is a crucial aspect of every equipment. Whenever and wherever you can, ensure that you incline into tools with more safety incorporated into their design. This is usually more common in costlier machine tools. As there is no price to the safety of the machinist and workshop, protecting your operators and customers can help you drill down insurance costs and conform to better safety standards in your workshop.

• Tool changer design

Consider the tool holder and tool changer layout. Consider how it works and the ease of replacement, the accessibility of the tools during operation, and the extent of difficulty in replacing or cleaning broken tools, chips and debris.

• Power and capacity

Refrain from investing in spindles with low-power and low-quality motors that cannot match the required speeds or become fatigued after small hours of operations. Rather, opt for high-power spindles that have large bearings and a slower rate of wear or tear. Generally, the higher the horsepower rating, the more efficient the machine cuts rigid materials. Cheap, belt-power spindles will also fail during high-power applications and may become unstable from vibrations. This can result in defects and errors in machining the workpiece. This is why the machine capacity, speed, and power are some of the most important parameters in choosing a machine tool. High power spindles will generally deliver better RPM, resulting in faster operations, longer tool life, and overall cost savings.

Premium Parts CNC prototyping in China

Approaching CNC tool selection from a strategic planning perspective is important if you’re getting it right with your workshop and manufacturing hubs. Before concluding on the tool, you must consider ease of use, safety, cost, availability of parts, functionality, physical and cosmetic properties. At Premium Parts, we offer excellent CNC machining and rapid prototyping services in China. Get in touch with us to review your new project and get a free quote.

How to Select the Right Materials for CNC Prototyping

aluminum sheets

CNC prototyping presents new opportunities for product development and rapid prototyping. Because of the versatility of CNC technology, product developers can quickly evaluate concepts, feasibility, and iterate design. The advantages of CNC prototyping also cut across cost savings, elimination of tooling costs, and the ease of correcting models through CAM/CAD software.

Today, we look at a crucial step in CNC prototyping – material selection. Material selection is essential for CNC prototyping for many reasons; First, you want to test and prototype with the exact material or the closest substitute to be used in the final product. You also want to evaluate the ease of machining and the raw material’s functionality and cost for both prototyping and mass production. Read on to discover our best practices for choosing the suitable material for your CNC prototyping.

CNC prototyping VS Traditional prototyping

It is essential to understand why choosing the right material for CNC prototyping is crucial to product success. To emphasize this, we put CNC prototyping against conventional means of prototyping. Here are the results:

• First, CNC prototyping is a form of rapid prototyping, and it is designed for quick turnaround. Because of this, it is essential to refrain from using expensive materials that you may discard until the perfect prototype is achieved. There’s no point in having high material waste costs when you can try other alternatives that are more affordable for rapid prototyping.

• Second, traditional prototyping methods may favor the use of tooling. Tooling costs are quite high (due to tooling materials) and will drive up the overall production/prototyping costs.

• Third, CNC prototyping uses CAD/CAM models for work. These digital drawings allow for on-the-go modifications depending on the outcomes of the tests and the desired end products. Choosing the right material for CNC prototyping will enable you to evaluate all properties (physical, cosmetic, mechanical, functional) of your product with high fidelity models.

Selecting the right material

Before commencing your CNC prototyping process, consider these factors:

Product appearance: What will the selected material look like when the final prototype is produced?

1. Physical strength

How does the material deliver on the desired physical attributes, rigidity, durability?

2. Chemical, physical and physicochemical properties

How will the material react in real-life scenarios? Is the product to be used under extreme pressure or temperature conditions? What is the level of elasticity, strain, and stress it can handle? Is it fire retardant? Chemical (corrosion/rust) resistant?

3. Ease of machining

Will the selected material be easily machined into the final part, or are they complications? Remember that complex material that requires more effort to machine demands higher cost and labor input.

4. Cost

Does the desired material land the product at the right cost? Is there still room for profit? Are there suitable alternatives at more affordable price ranges? Is there going to be a need for post-machining costs?

5. Product functionality

Does the material deliver on the product functionality, ease of use, feel, and safety of your intended product?

After you have put these factors into consideration, you can now embark on these steps to select the material:

What properties are critical to your product

Depending on what product you are manufacturing, the critical properties of your part will vary from other products. For instance, elasticity may be a desired attribute along with strength. In cases like these, metal materials are likely to be unsuitable, and high-density plastic resins may be more appropriate. Factor in your target market and conclude on the primary attributes that your product needs to have (including cosmetics). Once you do this, you will find that many materials fit your need. Move on to the next phase below.

Shortlist, test, and record

After determining the critical product properties, proceed to shortlist the materials that meet your specifications while factoring in cost and availability. Depending on the number of resources available, you can use each material’s datasheet to further analyze or perform CNC prototyping with each material, obtaining various prototypes ready to be evaluated and tested.

Analyze, select and validate

After testing the desired materials, select the one that best fits the end purpose. Again, all the factors above you should consider. Once you are convinced of a material, validate your product design by building prototypes and putting them through several functionality tests, consumer and market testing till you get it right.

Get started Premium Part CNC prototyping in China

Approaching material selection from a strategic planning perspective is important if you’re getting it right with your product development. Before concluding on the materials, you have in mind, speak to an expert, consider the material datasheet, and query if the material ticks all or most of your boxes, including cost, functionality, physical and cosmetic properties. We offer excellent CNC machining and rapid prototyping services at Premium Parts in China. Get in touch with us to review your new project and get a free quote.

How Manufacturers Are Responding To The Coronavirus

The effects of the novel Coronavirus “COVID-19” have been felt worldwide. And with many countries still struggling to keep their local cases under control, it can take a long while if the global economy ever returns to what it was like. Amidst the worldwide pandemic, manufacturing businesses have had to lower operations, incur costs, small profits and sustain their employees. From CNC machining to Injection molding and 3D printing, manufacturers worldwide share the same concern.

Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on manufacturing

The significant impact of the covid-19 on the manufacturing business has been around health concerns and supply chain disruption. As all non-essential enterprises have shut down, manufacturers have prioritized the health of their workers, effecting a stay-at-home approach for everyone. For critical production runs, semi or fully automated factories can do with a handful of operators.

China, the world’s manufacturing capital, has faced severe supply chain issues in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Asides from not being able to process its raw materials and carry out production as intended, the company shut down several factories to uncover the root cause and mitigate the spread of the virus. This resulted in the quickest slump for factory activity in China’s history and its lowest purchasing manager’s index (PMI) since inception.

Companies making a change

The fight against the Coronavirus has drawn everybody’s participation. From the frontline medical workers, doctors, nurses, virologists, microbiologists, and Government agencies, to the everyday individual that has agreed to stay at home, wash their hands, and practice social distancing, the progress has made against the virus will inevitably land us with a solution. Some manufacturer businesses, some of which are our clients, have gone above and beyond in facilitating the availability of critical resources like face masks, testing kits, ventilators, and ventilator components.

Companies like Tesla Motors, GM, Ford, Medtronic, Dyson, and Giorgio Armani have all donated, developed, and explored new ways to utilize their business assets to bridge the shortage gaps in medical and testing equipment driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies like Carbon, Materialise, and Winsun have also made breakthrough test swabs prototypes, hands-free door handles, and quarantine rooms. Efforts like these have been recognized all around the community as selfless and impact-driving.

Rapid solutions currently

While the world is still yet to develop a cure for this deadly virus, rapid manufacturing is leveraging digital supply chains, rapid prototyping solutions, and data science to forge ahead. And while manufacturing may not be the key to the vaccine, here’s the unbelievable array of solutions that innovative companies have leveraged 3D printing and computerized machining to develop.

1. 3D printed ventilator parts

Medical engineers have leveraged the speed and rapid prototyping capabilities of 3D printing to develop electronic components of a ventilator since printing an entire ventilator isn’t 100% feasible with additional manufacturing. These parts and components were prototyped, tested, certified effective, and deployed for use in the same day in Italy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

2. CNC/Sheet metal door openers

Materialize, a global 3D manufacturer, has developed a hands-free solution for opening doors and mitigating the risk of spreading the virus by touching door handles. This occurred in the wake of the discovery by the US National Institutes of Health, revealing that the virus can linger on stainless steel surfaces for up to 3 days. Other innovations are foot-operated door opener levers that allow people to open the door with their feet or shoes. Since humans have considerably lesser interaction with their feet, this method helps to mitigate the risk of viral transmission through doors and other handles.

3. 3D printed test swabs and face shields

3D printing company Carbon has begun prototyping Covid-19 test swabs to help meet the urgent need and tackle the unavailability of test kits in the world. The company has received a class 1 exempt device status for its 3D printed face shields to allow it to commence distributions to hospitals, while its test swabs are still in development.

Face shields have also been developed by major 3D printers worldwide, with market leader Stratasys set to manufacture 350,000 units in the coming days. Prusa, a 3D company, has also made downloadable digital models for face shields that can be downloaded and printed by just about anyone who has access to a 3D printer.

4. 3D printed quarantine rooms

Winsun, a 3D architecture company in China, printed and donated 15 quarantine rooms to the specialized Covid-19 hospital, Xianning Central Hospital in Wuhan, China.

3D Printing at Premium Parts

Premium Parts offers a professional 3D printing service for making a wide array of product parts. Our additive manufacturing technology provides an excellent opportunity for valuable innovation that will aid in the fight against Coronavirus. Our superior quality control systems ensure that all our deliveries are speedy and standard for every manufacturing size in both lean manufacturing and high-volume productions. Reach out to us on your project and determine the best materials and print technology to use on your next project!

Advancing From Digital To Physical In 3 Simple Steps

CAD Design

Before the widespread adoption of additive manufacturing, CNC machining, rapid prototyping techniques, hardware design, and product design iteration were usually sluggish at best. It is because of the many phases of conventional product development. Before the digital age, scientists and engineers will first write/draw out the design or idea on paper, propose several hypotheses, research the best-fit materials and then build the product. In the cases of errors and failures, the consequences were painstaking and arduous; the engineers will need to return to square one, investigate and retry.

Why Digital Iteration is never enough

Many newbie product developers often drag their design iteration and spend ample time in the digital phase. For many, this is where the purse of perfection must attain. Sadly, this is not the case. Unless your product is an electronic concept that will be used intangibly, digital iteration can never be enough. Here’s why:

Each phase informs the other – the feedbacks from physical versions will be put into improving the digital concept.

Scale does matter – digital iteration may be scaled down some percentage of the original size. Having a physical version will inform the spatial relationships, putting the bigger picture in view.

Evaluating functionality – do the parts function as they should? Do they fit into one another? does the chosen form enhance how the product performs and behaves?

Sense organs – physical iterations can help you see, feel and even smell what the product is like. You also get to understand how texture plays a role in the product’s usability.

Making the Shift

1. Ready your digital file

The chosen production method will determine the type of digital file you have. For rapid prototyping, CNC machining and 3D printing are most common. For 3D printing, you should have an STL file. STEP files are most common for general manufacturing. You may also have a CAD or CAM file for CNC-ers. Whatever the case may be, ensure that you have properly formatted and saved the file appropriately, as it is not uncommon to have errors in digital files when converting.

2. Note the version

Now that the digital file is ready, save the file while documenting the version in the document properties. Assigning a version to a file helps keep track of what is in that build, the modifications to be or that have been made from the previous version.

Versioning also allows you to compare new iterations with previous designs should the need arise.

3. Manufacture physical prototypes

Lastly, send the most recent version of your digital file to your team members, manufacturing partner, and supplier for inspection and critique. Since this is your first design to be printed, there should be very little feedback around the functionality of the design and performance. Once you have gotten a green light, it is time to manufacture the physical prototype.

After the physical prototype has been manufactured, begin to run tests based on the critical parameters for your design. Evaluate the product for functionality, strength, form, design, and performance in real life or simulated environments. The testing is the last stage before you return to your digital file. The results obtained here will be the blueprint that guides you in effecting all the required changes in your design and bringing it one step closer to the perfect product.

Advance with Premium Part

At premium part, we boast of excellent 3D printing, sheet metal, CNC machining, and rapid prototyping services that can help you to optimize your budget, develop prototypes and facilitate market entry. Stay ahead of the curve and contact us today for all your rapid and low-volume manufacturing services.

With our product engineering and design iteration expertise, we can help you move from idea/concept to physical prototypes in several days. Please feel free to contact us for a free quote.

8 Standard Metal Part Finishing Techniques

Anodized Aluminum

One of the many advantages of CNC machining is the decent level of cosmetic appearance evidenced in its finished parts. And while many product developers will take decent, more often than not, metal parts will require some extent of post-machining touches to emphasize the true elegance, aesthetic, and even functionality of the part. Here are eight standard metal finishing options for perfecting your metal parts.

1. Anodizing

Anodizing is a surface treatment, protection, and cosmetic-enhancing finishing technique used to introduce additional thickness to the inherent oxide layer that is found on the surface of the aluminum and metallic parts. Anodizing will prevent the surface of the part from corrosion and scratching. When used along with an array of colored dyes, it can be used to give the metal part a smooth matte finish.

2. Laser etching and engraving

Laser etching and engraving are used to add standout details, text, logos, or symbols on finished metal parts. The technology works by tuning lasers at high frequencies at the metal parts to achieve the desired pattern. Most metal parts with serial numbers, part numbers, popping patterns, and high-contrast symbols are all etched with lasers.

3. Powder coating

As the name implies, Powder coating involves coating the metal part with dry polymeric powder. This technique leverages the variances in electric potential to use electron charges to stick coat to a part.

The process uses an electrostatic gun to charge the spray powder to a positive state. This powder adheres to the metal part and is heat-cured to make the finish permanent. The advantage of powder coating is the many colors that can be experimented with. It also adds thickness to the walls of your part, so if a dimension is critical for you, you may want to consider how this technique influences your design.

4. Polishing

If you’ve ever seen a shiny, mirror-like finish in a high-grade metal part, you can achieve it through polishing. Polishing is a cosmetic and functional finishing technique that delivers parts’ clarity, reflectivity, or transparency. Because of the level of labor required, the technique can be relatively expensive, so it’s well worth it to wait till you’re producing your final parts for market entry.

5. Brushing

Brushing is used to produce a dull polished finish on metal parts. The finish resembles a satin-like texture, and the procedure uses a 120-180 grit belt. The finished part retains some metallic luster and inherits a pattern of parallel lines arising from the brushing action.

Unlike anodizing, brushing may inhibit or weaken the natural oxide later in some metals because abrasion is common with the process. This can enable rusting in the metal parts. It is particularly recommended for decorative products like watches and jewelries.

6. Sanding

Sanding is a basic yet versatile metal post-processing technique. It is done with a gritty sandpaper, which depends on the desired texture and level of finish. Through sandpaper, the metal can inherit a smooth luster, uniform, semi-smooth, relative to the size of the grits in the sandpaper. The downside of sanding is the cost and the time it takes. The time is taken to sand a metal part largely relies on the metal’s hardness. The advantage is the numerous levels of texture can be explored through sandpaper grit sizes.

7. Plating

Metal plating is a finishing process that delivers on both cosmetic and protective fronts. The procedure simply involves using a thin layer of another metal to coat the surface of a metal part. The thin material (plate) protects the metal surface from corrosion and rusting (oxidation). Plating can also be used to alter the cosmetic appearance of metal to resemble the plating metal. Chrome, Zinc, Tin, and Nickel are the most common plating techniques. Carbon steel and copper are the two metal materials that are most plated.

8. Media blasting

Media blasting is a metal finishing technique that is used to convey smooth, matter finish post-processing. The technique can use various materials, referred to as the media, to apply the desired texture in the metal by firing these small gritty materials at high speed. Common materials used in media blasting include sand beads and glass.

Premium Parts Finishing Services in China

Take advantage of our wide range of finishing services to make your product look and feel as you desire. Explore our standard metal part finishing services and contact our production experts to discuss how best to deliver aesthetic and cosmetic superiority to all your metal parts. Get in touch with us now and receive your free quote!

7 Factors Affects the Costs of Low-Volume CNC Manufacturing

Custom-milled parts

Low-volume manufacturing is a quantity-specific type of manufacturing involving the production of end-use parts, components, or prototypes within 100 to 10,000 units. Low-volume production is often carried out to bridge the gap between successful prototypes and full volume manufacturing. It is also employed to stimulate market entry with the first couple of units before a product fully accepts and demands higher production.

The manufacturing cost associated with low-volume CNC machining hinges on many factors. Although these factors are the same that will generally affect any form of manufacturing, we shall be considering how specific factors can alter your production cost when low-volume manufacturing is involved.

1. Quantity

It’s no secret that production volume and total production cost are directly proportional. We understand that every cost unit has a fixed and variable factor from economics. The fixed costs are the costs that will remain constant irrespective of the quantity produced. Examples of fixed costs include building rental, taxes, salaries, depreciation, insurance, and maintenance costs. On the other hand, variable costs will increase or decrease based on the quantity being produced. These include labor, raw materials, shipping, freight, and utility costs.

When dealing with low-volume manufacturing, there is a higher chance that your production cost will be driven upwards by the fixed costs that won’t be spread over too many parts.

Another angle to consider is how low-volume manufacturing will generally increase the operational time. This is because of the numerous stops and starts when making only a few units of a part. Unlike full-scale manufacturing, where tens of thousands of products are being run. You may simply need 1000 units of product A and 500 of product B. A lot of time is lost between programming, adjustment, test runs, and operators getting used to your part.

2. Raw materials

Raw material cost is a crucial example of the variable costs summarized above. The quantity of raw material required to run a specific job depends on the number of parts to manufacture with the material. Furthermore, the nature of the end part and the type of raw material go hand in hand. This will also affect the landing cost of your low-volume project. While manufacturing lesser units will mean lower raw material volume, choosing the wrong material for your part can shoot up your cost.

Factor in the ease of machining the material, the ratio of waste, and the need for post-machining operations. As low-volume manufacturing is often a bridge for full-scale manufacturing and product prototyping, you may consider using viable alternatives for the intended initially raw materials to save cost or aid turnaround.

3. Manufacturing Cycle Time

The manufacturing cycle time refers to the total time taken to produce a batch of parts. Depending on the total quantity to be manufactured and the machine capacity, a batch may run 500 to 1000+ units at a time. The longer it takes to make a single unit of your part, the more that unit will likely cost. This cost will also be scaled to accommodate the total units you desire to make, although, at some volumes, the cost per part begins to reduce.

Factors like unit production time and power costs are the biggest drivers in the manufacturing cycle time. Following DFM guides can help you identify many cost-saving approaches and increase the overall quality when producing your part.

4. Labor cost

In almost every workshop, labor cost will be one of the heavy hitters in manufacturing low-volume projects. Depending on the complexity of parts and the need for assembly or post-machining, the labor cost may be affordable or pricey. Therefore, many product developers are advised to do away as much as possible with purely aesthetic features as this will take significant effort on the labor to execute the design. DFM guides also advise that parts should be designed as composites without the need for assembly or post-production fitting when doable.

Labor cost is also impacted by the country of manufacture, the skill level required, the hourly rate, and the minimum wage in the area. This is particularly important if one of the unique selling points (USP) of your product is themed around hand-made inputs (for instance, car dashboards like the Mercedes Benz or BMW). Low-volume projects in China should be relatively less expensive than production batches run in the US or Europe.

5. Country of manufacture

Where your part manufacturing also plays a critical role in the landing cost of your low-volume projects. It also hinges on the total quantity to be manufactured. While China remains the world’s capital for manufacturing, consider if the shipping and logistic costs will take over the labor cost if you choose to manufacture somewhere closer to your home country.

Next, ponder the nearness of the raw material and raw material costs in each location. Irrespective of the volume, many entrepreneurs and companies have found that China remains the optimal location due to the region’s rates and taxes, power costs, experience, versatility, availability, and labor cost.

6. The production lead times

Leadtimes refer to your production delivery schedule. The extent of flexibility of your project deadline may help you drive up or down your low-volume production costs. Quite understandably, if you need only a few volumes of items on a tight deadline, you must be ready to pay top dollar. This is because the manufacturer will logically prioritize mass production demands at profitable rates over your order.

If you want a factory rush order, this will likely mean that the workshop will have to suspend its other jobs and dedicate resources (machines and labor) to it. Overtime payments may even arise.

The longer your order can go, the lesser the cost of production for you. This is why it is imperative to time and plan your demand and supply and contact your supplier weeks ahead before the due date.

7. Demand and Supply

As we all know, there is no business without economics.

Planning around your supplier’s peak period can drive the cost of your project significantly because of the strain on the resources available in the workshop at that period. When demand is high, your manufacturer is likely to charge you higher because the higher the demand, the higher the price. However, placing your order at their less active and quieter periods will be the opposite – lower rates.

An example can be made for seasonal stock, such as sweaters and knitwear. You can either place your order in the ember months, where you have to pay more or plan your resources and have your stock made in January for lower—assuming that the cost of storing your inventory till winter is still lesser than manufacturing in the peak period.

All manufacturers have highs and lows in their demand. Talk to your supplier on best to manufacture your low-volume production and negotiate better prices.

Premium Parts Low Volume Manufacturing

Please take advantage of our one-stop-shop service in China and switch to Premium Parts Manufacturing! At premium parts, we boast our excellent 3D printing, sheet metal, CNC machining, and rapid prototyping services that can help you to optimize your budget, develop prototypes and facilitate market entry. Stay ahead of the curve and contact us today for all your rapid and low-volume manufacturing services.