With the rise in technology, industries such as manufacturing are developing rapidly. From CNC to 3D printing, here are five new technologies that are changing modern manufacturing.
CNC or computer numerical control is using a computer to instruct your machining tools and conduct your manufacturing process. It doesn’t need a manual operator, as a CNC machine will use code to determine the course of action it needs to take in order to fit certain requirements. CNC achieves the same end product as conventional machining, but it has much more advantages – it’s much quicker and has a faster production rate. It’s also much more accurate than conventional processes as it reduces the risk of human error, meaning your products will come out more clean-cut.
Chinese prototype manufacturers like RapidDirect offer CNC machining and injection molding for those looking for an easier and more professional outcome. The RapidDirect blog linked also offers advice on topics such as how to design parts for CNC machining – worth looking into if you’re looking to optimize your work process. It’s cheap to start out too compared to other methods, as well as easier – all you need to do is design your product on a computer program and let the computer do the work, meaning you can maximize your profit.
Injection molding is different to CNC in the way that unlike CNC where you start with a block of raw material, with injection molding you start with the molten material, mainly thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers, and inject it into a cast or mold. Although more expensive to start out than CNC, if you’re planning on using injection molding on a larger scale, it may be more beneficial than CNC in turning a profit. However, the quality of injection molding, unlike CNC, can degrade over time due to the mold wearing down, meaning your product may not come out as best as it could be. Injection molding also requires time to design the cast, meaning it may take longer to start out, but once the molds are complete and ready to go, the process can be shortened dramatically.
If you want to start out your own business, 3D printing is a very viable option – it’s very cheap to start out, meaning it’s easy to go head-first into production. The design of your product is also more accessible – it’s easier to navigate than CNC programs, as these are fairly complicated. 3D printing, however, is fairly simple and means you can prototype your product design much faster.
However, although 3D printing is good for specific objects and niche markets, mass production is where 3D printing falls short – it can take hours to produce one object, meaning your production rate is drastically reduced and therefore your profits, too. As 3D printers work by layering material, you can be left with rough edges and unsightly marks and appearance. Some complex designs can’t be made as the printer does not have the same accuracy as processes like CNC, and so you might find yourself limited in terms of what you can sell, thus reducing your possible target audience and revenue. One thing 3D printing is very useful for, however, is medical usage – for example, tooth fillings and prosthetics are where 3D printing becomes ideal.
The cloud is a useful tool for any business, but it’s particularly effective in the manufacturing industry. The cloud allows anyone, whether that’s individual employees or separate plants altogether, communicate with each other and share data. This can have a major impact on the way the manufacturing process is carried out – plants and employees can cooperate with each other to ensure the highest quality at the lowest price. This will also help to reduce the time spent during production, as everyone can be aware of who is at which stage and what they need to be doing to be the most efficient. The shared data in the Cloud also means it is easier to maintain consistency between the plants and ensure the highest quality is always being delivered.
Robotics is a fast-developing area in manufacturing and despite its fairly new introduction, is already implemented in some areas. For example, in China, the Dongguan factory replaced 650 humans with 60 robotic arms – and hopes to replace 80% of its manufacturing with 1,000 robotic arms by next year. However, although this can be seen as a great step for technology and manufacturing, it does have its drawbacks. Unemployment is, of course, a big problem – with the replacement of a plant’s workers, its possible the plant may lose popularity and public approval, meaning your products are less likely to be bought and supported. Robotics may be good for productivity and maintaining a high production rate, however, keeping the whole process automated from start to finish may mean losing personal, creative touches which make a product unique and reduce their appeal.
With the rapid advancement in technology, it’s up to you to decide which method suits you and your company best – and how technology will form the manufacturing industry of the future.