10 Ways Engineers Can Improve The Machinability Of Their Parts


Machined Parts

10) Double check your drawing.  Often the default on some design software is actually a very difficult feature to make.  Do you really need a bottom tapped hole?

9) Spend a few days with the QA department the first time they qualify your new part.  It will be eye opening.

8) Can you explain concentricity, how it affects the bore on the axle you are having made, and how QA should measure it?  If not, take a class on Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T).  (tip: This is a tough thing to learn without Q&A, but here is a good book: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing for Mechanical Design: A Self-Teaching Guide to ANSI Standards)

7) Walk through your design with a machinist, and explain your intention behind major decisions.  This will help him identify features you can adjust to improve machining efficiency.

6) Parts that don’t fit together are a lazy engineer’s fault.  Don’t always blame the machine shop.  Double check your tolerance stackup, and then check it again.  Visualize it.  Then, write it down.  Don’t just use your calculator.

5) If the material isn’t crucial, choose the easiest to machine.  Machining time is usually more expensive than the material.  (Check out 12L14 Ultra Machinable Carbon Steel)

4) Ask a machinist which features of your part are the most challenging to machine, and then go simplify them.

3) Tell your machinist which features are absolutely necessary and which can be tweaked.  He’ll have some good suggestions to improve the machinability.

2) Spend a few days helping a machinist make one of your more complex parts.  You will learn things you never even thought of.

1) Encourage feedback from the machine shop and get as much of it as you can.  Don’t be the engineer that takes offense to suggestions regarding your designs.

What tips do you have to improve machinability?

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3 Responses

  1. Very good article. Number 10 should be number 1. Everything stars with the drawing. Bad drawing – bad parts

  2. yvonne says:

    I totally agree with all you suggestions, you are in oversea, maybe face this kind problem not so often, but I am in China, and we are chinese factory, sometimes customer sent us a 2D drawing, without tell anymore information, if happy with the rapid prototyping price, they always push us go ahead to CNC machining, or SLA it, they dont like give too much information to us, but infact, this is always leading some problem. becasue our chinaprotomold factory can give them too much advice for his future production.

    Make our cooperation more easily is communication, know the function, so we can advise use which kind material,the tense, the degree,the way to machining and the finishing….

    So hope more and more customer willing to coopration with ChinaProtoMold, bulding bond ,and trust!

    Many thanks

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