Anyone attempting to set up a mechanical fitting/machining shop can attest to the seemingly steep learning curve. Certainly, getting starting with machining is not a trivial matter at all. However, it is not nearly as overwhelming as it can seem.
The secret, as with many things, is to break up the process into a few simple, actionable chunks.
Study Up on Types of Machines and Machining Tools
If you are setting up a machine shop, chances are that you intend to sell your services at some point. Mechanical fitting is a wide field, so it is important to figure out exactly what types of parts you will be dealing with.
Different parts require different machines to repair and manufacture. Once you’ve chosen your niche, you need to determine the materials and sizes that you will be dealing with.
For example, you may intend to manufacture and repair steel protective casings. In this case, you know that your primary material will be steel, and that you will need fairly accurate machinery (since protective casings are usually built with tight tolerances).
Generally, you can do a lot with a lathe, a bench grinder, and a drill. Learn to use the basic machines, and if any specific needs arise that your machines can’t seem to fulfil, then you can expand to more specific machinery.
Learn to Operate both Manual Machines and CNC
CNC (computer numerical control) is a huge part of modern machining. Computer-aided machining has the potential for far greater accuracy and speed than manual machining. In fact, many people will espouse the superiority of CNC machining over manual machining.
While this is certainly true for top-end machines (that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars), learning the principles of machining through manual operation is still a highly beneficial process.
Manual skills translate to a deeper knowledge of the principles of mechanical work. This not only allows you to operate CNC machines better, but gives you the ability and knowledge to identify and correct problems as they occur.
Master Basic Measurement Equipment
Essential machining equipment goes beyond simply the tools that do the actual machining. Measurement equipment is a vital part of any mechanical shop, and is critical in ensuring that work is completed to the highest degree of accuracy.
Learn to properly and accurately use the following tools:
- Centre Finder
- Edge Finder
- Dial Test Indicator
The above tools should be able to take most of the measurements necessary to carry out mechanical fitting and machining.
To familiarise yourself with their use, practice on a fairly complex part. Find a part (which you know all the dimensions of already) that has holes, curved edges, and multiple angles, and practice using the tools to calculate the dimensions.
If your measured dimensions correspond with the official ones, you know that your measurements have been accurate.
For more information about mechanical fitters or machining in general, contact a company such as Hamilton Engineering.Read More