While machining technology is always advancing, 2020 accelerated some key innovations. In the machining industry, many companies had to pivot and produce necessary supplies quickly, or they were met with a decreased demand for products and were forced to reduce jobs. Even in the best of times, it's getting more difficult to find manufacturing workers, and companies are turning to automation. Using robotics to increase productivity is one of several trends and changes that are likely here to stay.
The Use of 6-Axis Machines
For years, the 3-axis and 5-axis CNC milling machines have been standard—then the 6-axis machine made its debut in 2019. Another axis means less production time: this machine offers greater rotation around the z-axis, resulting in quicker cut times for those precise parts. It may prove especially useful for the large components required in the aerospace and automotive industries, and it's likely that we'll see the 6-axis CNC machine become as common as its 3- and 5-axis counterparts as companies are able to afford this addition to their line-up.
Advancements in CAD/CAM Software
Not only has CAD/CAM software become more accessible in recent years, it's also been upgraded for improved efficiency and accuracy. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software is a critical element of CNC machining, and the addition of collision disclosure reduces the risk of error, particularly as manufactured parts become more complex. Since the machine is anticipating potential failures, it relieves the employees of that pressure and allows them to focus on other tasks.
Increased Use of Robotics
Automation is nothing new, but the way it's used in the Swiss machining industry is changing. Today, collaborative robots, which are carefully designed to work alongside people, are growing in popularity. These advanced robots can be taught what to do, and they learn as they go. There's no need for extensive programming, which would require a dedicated highly skilled worker. Additional advancements in robot vision systems allow these smart machines to see and recognize tools or parts, pick them up, and use or place them accordingly. Collaborative robots are versatile and relatively easy to use, and they're expected to reduce costs and increase productivity.
Emergence of IIoT
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) brings manufacturing facilities online the same way thermostats and refrigerators have been brought online at home. This digital automation allows manufacturers to collect data about performance, efficiency, the working environment, and the health of every machine and function throughout the facility. This data gives company owners the insight they need to understand production rates and where the process can be tweaked for improvement.
IIoT also introduces the possibility of remote programming and troubleshooting, automatic shut-off, and more. It's another way to improve the quality of products while working more quickly and safely, and it's not just for the manufacturing industry. A number of industries are taking advantage of it, including communications, automotive, defense, medical devices, retail, food and beverage, and others.
Increased Popularity of Manufacturing as a Service
Instead of every company owning their own machining technology, the growing popularity of Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) allows machines and other networked resources to be shared among subscribers—who also share the costs of repair and maintenance. Especially for companies reeling under the pressure of the last year, this allows for incredible cost savings and flexibility as they ramp up production. However, even as the economy and individual manufacturers continue to recover, MaaS will still offer the opportunity for added productivity and agility. It's been a growing trend over the last few years, anyway, and 2020 highlighted its usefulness.
Learn More From Ardel Engineering About What’s to Come in 2021 & Beyond
As a full-service CNC machining, Swiss screw turning, wire EDM cutting, and assembly facility, Ardel Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc. is excited about the advances in machining technology and the opportunity to offer a safer, more efficient working environment while reducing lead times and producing the highest quality products possible. For the last 40 years, we've been committed to staying on top of trends and offering the best in CNC machining capabilities to ensure precision products for our customers.
Ardel Engineering shares the latest trends of 2021 in CNC Swiss machining and turning, and what’s to come for machining technology.