Uses of CNC Machining In the Automotive Industry

Many car enthusiasts like to get under the bonnet and learn more about how their vehicle works, whether that is out of general interest or so that they can squeeze any extra power out of the engine. In this article we will look at how CNC machining is responsible for your car’s power output, it’s ignition system and much more.

Does Your Car Start First Time?

Many readers over the age of 40 will remember their first cars requiring a lot of TLC when starting up for the first time, especially in the cold. Often, not using the car for a week or so would mean getting out the jumper cables and asking your neighbour to help starting up when you need to get to work on a cold morning. Chances are, this is now a distant memory, and you’ll be more accustomed to starting your car without a key, let alone with a jump start. So how has this transition come about? it is down to the magic that is CNC machining.

The component in your engine that is responsible for starting your car is called the starter motor. Over the years, computer numerical controlled manufacturing has become more and more advanced, with higher precision parts being crafted by car makers. This fine quality has reduced the failure rate of starter motors, while at the same time requiring less energy to turn the engine on. So how is that? it is thanks to highly precise components that the starter motor has become more efficient over the years, with less potential points of failure. As a result, your car will now consistently start whereas as late as 20 years ago, your family car will likely have been a lot more troublesome.

How Much Horsepower Does Your Car Have?

Another department where cars have benefited from the wonders of CNC machining is in the realm of increasing power. Car enthusiasts will know of American muscle cars with engines as big as 6 litres or even up to 7 and a half litres, yet only developing a pitiful 250-350 horsepower. How incredibly inefficient! Yet at the time of writing in 2013, the Ford Fiesta ST has a 1.6 engine with approaching 200 horsepower, and the average 2 litre naturally aspirated BMW has 177 horsepower. In as late as the early 1990s, your average 2 litre engined car could only manage around 100 horsepower. So how have cars become so powerful with smaller engines? It is all down to CNC machining and the additional efficiency this can bring. Using this technology, car parts can be built to much tighter tolerances, meaning less wear on the engine, and therefore increased power and fuel efficiency.

Performance tuners also turn to CNC machining when they want to increase power in their vehicle. Racing parts must be designed to even tighter tolerances to produce the least energy wastage and highest power. In fact, modern Formula 1 engines are made to so precise tolerances that their engines cannot be started cold. Instead, their engine oil must first be heated to an optimal temperature. A similar phenomenon is seen in tuned road cars. As increased power requires a more efficient engine, more precise parts are required to eliminate any points of the engine that saps power. As a result, more power is generated, but in return the average performance vehicle or tuner car will need more maintenance and servicing as a result.

Automotive Machining

Machining techniques are used widely in the automotive industry for manufacturing different automobile components such as outer body sheets, internal components, and windscreens. Automobiles are produced in an assembly line that requires the same type of components for producing them in large volumes. Different components are prefabricated using machining processes and transferred to the assembly line for final production.

One of the most common automotive machining techniques in use today is known as wire electrical discharge machining (EDM). Wire electric discharge machining (EDM) uses a wire electrode that travels through the conductive work piece. The electrically charged wire is monitored by a Computer Numerically Controlled system (CNC).

Wire EDM removes a material from the work piece by spark erosion. During this process, the wire never touches the conductive work piece. The electrically charged wire leaves a path on the work piece, which is slightly larger than the wire. Often a 0.010′ wire is used which creates a 0.013′ to 0.014′ gap. The wire electrode can just be passed once through the conductive work piece, and cannot be reused.

The gap between the wire and the work piece generates high voltage electrical pulses. The high voltage and the controlled spark melt and vaporize a small part of the work piece. Each spark produces a temperature of 10,000° C, where as the energy turned out by the power supply decides the size of the spark penetration into the material. With the improvement in the cutting speed, reliability, unattended operation, and accuracy, it is also becoming popular in many other industries such as the aerospace, defense, and electronics.

The multiple work pieces set up and unattended operation saves a lot of time of the operator, which can be fruitfully utilized on other job functions. The wire EDM system is very cost-effective and can be operated at around $4 per hour in normal cutting conditions.