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What Is Aerospace CNC Machining?

Posted by Mike Sterling

Oct 3, 2022 3:25:43 AM

To function properly, components for commercial airplanes, fighter jets, spacecraft, and missiles must withstand extreme and fluctuating temperatures and altitude pressures. Aerospace CNC machining allows manufacturers to produce safe, reliable parts for such mission-critical applications.

At Ardel Engineering and Manufacturing Inc., our team uses CNC machining to create high-performance parts that support the aerospace industry. With a commitment to innovation, we manufacture and assemble essential air- and spacecraft components with rugged strength, superior precision, tight tolerances, and quality materials.

Benefits of Using CNC Machining for Aerospace Parts

The many advantages of computer numerical control (CNC) machining make it an ideal fit for aerospace part production. Its benefits include:

  • Superior performance. To safeguard against part failure, aerospace components must adhere to stringent dimensional, tolerance, and performance requirements. CNC machining is ideal for this, making it possible for manufacturers to use high-performance yet difficult-to-machine materials like titanium in production.
  • Light weight. For equipment that takes flight, weight is an important consideration in its parts. CNC machining is capable of producing thin-walled components and structures from lightweight yet strong materials to fulfill this need.
  • High efficiency. One CNC machine can complete several machining processes. Also, through automation, CNC machining achieves higher speeds to shorten production cycles and improve efficiency.
  • Reliable precision. Thanks to continuous improvement in CNC machining, the process is increasingly precise. Better accuracy and process control minimize manufacturing defects and result in durable, high-quality parts with tight tolerances.
  • Affordability. Precision combined with rapid production helps with per-part costs, saving money on material waste, defect rework, and labor. Improved output also boosts profitability.

Applications of Aerospace CNC Machining

There are numerous applications for CNC machining within the aerospace industry, the most common of which being:

  • Seats. Seating is a significant weight consideration in air- and spacecraft. However, aluminum and other CNC-machinable lightweight metals are capable of making sturdy seats.
  • Shafts. Shafts are important for transferring power in aerospace applications. CNC machining can produce strong parts using heat-resistant materials.
  • Oxygen generation components. CNC machining is capable of creating lightweight yet durable, temperature-resistant components for oxygen generation safety systems.
  • Valve components. The aerospace industry has common uses for these small components, and CNC-machined valves ensure part accuracy and efficient, safe operations.
  • Electrical connectors. Based on space and weight considerations, manufacturers can use CNC machining to create these essential parts of aircraft electrical systems.
  • Housings. The long, large components in missile housings require strong materials and accurate machining, which CNC processes provide.
  • Filter bodies. Ardel has experience in accurately machining complicated air and liquid filter bodies, having fabricated a multi-feature filter body with a complex geometry for a client using only one set-up. We were able to decrease turn times and maintain total tolerances of 0.006 inches or less utilizing a single Swiss screw machine.

Materials for Aerospace Machined Parts

Aerospace parts require strong and durable yet lightweight material composition. Aluminum is ideal for its abundance, cost-effectiveness, and favorable strength-to-weight ratio. Ardel works with:

  • Aluminum Alloy Series 2xxx. Alloyed with copper, this series features high strength with superior machinability and good workability. Its aerospace applications include wing and fuselage structures.
  • Aluminum Alloy Series 6xxx. Combined with magnesium and silicon, this versatile series resists corrosion and has good formability and strength.
  • Aluminum Alloy Series 7xxx. Containing zinc, copper, magnesium, and chromium, these alloys possess high strength for military aircraft applications.

In addition, Ardel utilizes a diverse selection of materials — even exotic metals — of varying strengths and price points. Available options include stainless steel, high-stress alloys, carbon, and titanium.

Why Choose Ardel Engineering for CNC Machining Aerospace Parts?

Over the last four decades, Ardel has built a hard-earned reputation for efficiency, quality, reliability, and on-time delivery. The Ardel team understands that every client and application is unique, and we will work closely with you during prototyping, production, assembly, inspection, packaging, and final delivery to exceed your expectations.

Our 30,000-sqft., climate-controlled facility is equipped with Haas horizontal and vertical CNC machining centers to best serve you with repeatable accuracy and rapid production. As an ISO 9001:2015-certified company, we've partnered with world leaders in the aircraft industry, such as Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Vickers, and World Aerospace.

Contact us to learn more about our CNC aerospace capabilities, or request a quote today.