CNC machining, an abbreviation for Computer Numeric Control machining, is a manufacturing process that uses pre-programmed computer software to guide machinery movement. This technology offers numerous benefits such as enhanced accuracy, boost in productivity, increased efficiency, and product uniformity. Yet, one integral step in CNC machining that often goes unnoticed but is equally important is bead blasting.
Bead blasting is a surface treatment method applied post-machining or before painting on parts made through CNC machining. It involves forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material, usually glass beads, against a surface under high pressure. The aim is to smooth the surface by removing any impurities or irregularities it may contain.
Here’s how this critical procedure works within the framework of CNC machining:
1. Selection of Beads
The size, hardness, and type of beads used will significantly determine the final appearance of the part. Ideally, smaller beads are chosen for delicate components to prevent any damage, while harder and larger beads are preferred for stronger materials needing more thorough cleaning. Commonly used blasting media includes glass beads, ceramic beads, steel shots, walnut shells, and plastic media.
2. Loading into Blast Machine
Post selection, the abrasive media gets loaded into the blast machine. Modern machines employ either siphon/suction or direct-pressure methods. In the former, air passes over a suction gun with a tube connected to the bottom of the hopper, creating airflow that draws up media and expels it out. Direct pressure methods utilize pressurized air which mixes with the abrasive in the delivery hose, exerting a greater force resulting in faster cleaning.
3. Applying Pressure
By adjusting the application pressure, you can control the aggressiveness of bead blasting. Higher pressure leads to a rougher surface finish while low pressure results in smoother finishes.
4. Treating CNC Parts
A nozzle directs the stream of beads onto the CNC machined part’s surface. This forceful projection strips away any impurities, defects, paints, and even rust from the parts while also preparing them for further coating or painting.
5. Collection & Recycling
This step involves collecting the used beads which often contain residues. Many bead blasting cabinets have built-in recycling systems to separate contaminants before reusing these beads.
The illustration above is a simplified summary of the sophisticated process known as bead blasting. But what benefits does this treatment provide in CNC machining?
1. Surface Cleaning: Bead blasting removes all forms of contaminating elements – residual scale, grime, corrosion, paint, etc., hence enhancing the appearance and lifespan of the machine components.
2. Finishing: It helps to achieve different kinds of finishes depending on the beads’ size, hardness, and pressure applied – satin, matte, mirror finish, etc.
3. Durability: The abrasive action of the beads reinforces the mechanical properties of the materials by hardening their surfaces.
4. Aesthetic Appeal: Blasting services can improve not only the function but also the form of your products with an appealing aesthetic upgrade.
From aerospace sectors, automotive industries to metal fabrications companies- every organization using CNC machines heavily relies on bead blasting for delivering precise, high-quality, durable, and aesthetically pleasing products. Therefore, understanding the importance and comprehending the delicate procedure of bead blasting in CNC machining may just be the secret ingredient next time you’re working toward creating that perfect component.