Cutting processes have always been an integral part of the manufacturing industry, what many do not know is that there are varying methods of cutting metal, Each process has different capabilities, limitations, and costs associated. While some Methods have been around as early as the mid-1800s, others are relatively new. In this post, we will break down the five processes that give the manufacturing industry the ability to cut through metals.
Chip Forming is a metal cutting process that uses mechanical means like sawing, milling, drilling, and turning. This method was pioneered by Kivima and Franz in the 1950s. This metal cutting process is often described in regards to a three-way model, this model is widely known in the machine tool design industry. During these methods, the material is gradually removed from the workpiece in smaller “chips.” Under the umbrella of chip forming are varying operations that utilize the process to remove excess material, below is a brief overview of just a few.
Shearing is a process that is often referred to as die cutting and originated in the mid-1800s when looking for a way to cut leather for the shoe industry. Now the process is used for a variety of different materials and is a way metal can be cut without chipping or the use of heat. This process uses a moving blade to push against the fixed workpiece. Within the process of shearing, there are various operations. Below we have highlighted the most popular two.
Abrasive cutting methods include operations such as grinding, lapping, and waterjet cutting. These cutting methods all remove excess material through erosion. These operations are much faster than heat processes like EDM & laser, offer better edge quality, and typically provide some sort of cost savings for manufacturers. Abrasive material removal is categorized by various operations which are broken down below.
Metal cutting by heat includes operations such as plasma cutting and laser cutting. Both of these processes use hot, high-powered light to cut away excess material. Laser cutting which originated in the 1960s and plasma cutting which was introduced in 1957 have long been some of the most well-known methods of metal cutting. Despite both of these operations being widely accepted methods of cutting, they do create thermal damage, significant distortion, and require some finishing processes. Laser and Plasma cutting operations are characterized below.
Electrochemical cutting methods include processes such as electrical discharge machining (EDM), etching, and electrochemical machining (ECM). These operations perform a cut through an electrical and chemical reaction.
With so many processes and operations available today manufacturers have a plethora of options for cutting metals. While each one has its advantages and disadvantages, there is no one-size-fits-all. Industry professionals often decide on the operation to implement after a thorough investigation of the project.
So what process fits your next project?
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