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Design Best Practices for CNC Machined Parts

When designing a 3D model for precision CNC machining services, the possibilities are virtually endless. But just because you can include certain features or tolerances doesn’t always mean you should.

Precision machining has its limitations, and when engineers take these limitations into account during the design process, they can transition smoothly to manufacturing, saving valuable time and money.

At Peerless Precision, we want our customers to have all the necessary information to create the best designs possible. That’s why we developed an eBook dedicated to design best practices for CNC machined parts.

We’re highlighting three design best practices today, but you’ll have to download the eBook to get the rest!

Design for Manufacturing: Best Practices for CNC Machined Parts

High-precision parts with tight tolerances are challenging to design and machine. Here are a few of the most common design tips we offer engineers to improve part functionality, lower costs, and save time:

1. Avoid thin walls when possible

Leveraging our precision machining expertise, we can achieve a wall thickness of about 0.003” depending on factors like part type and material. Still, the thinnest walls possible typically aren’t the most functional or budget-friendly option for your part.

Recently, a customer requested a wall thickness of 0.002” for titanium cones, but together, we determined that 0.003” or 0.004” would be sufficient. Machining a slightly thicker wall allowed us to streamline our precision machining process and deliver the customer’s parts faster.

2. Design fractional diameter holes in the corners of mating parts

Mating parts, like valve or piston sleeves, require a high level of precision, but we can still find ways to save time and money machining them.

For instance, it’s possible to optimize cost and lead time by designing fractional diameter holes in the corners of the part, which enables us to machine the part’s profile more easily. While this solution isn’t appropriate for show parts or other parts with high aesthetic standards, it’s an option to consider for certain projects.

We ensure that mating parts fit together perfectly by asking our customers for samples to use as fit gauges. Although we always build parts to exact specifications, having a sample part to check the fit against is helpful.

A final note on designing mating parts: remember that tolerances stack, so if you’re using a tolerance of +/- 0.005”, you’ll need a clearance of at least +/- 0.010” between parts.

3. Use bosses to define surface flatness

Surface flatness is achieved when each point along the surface of an object lies in the same plane. We can check for flatness by seeing how the surface fits between two parallel planes.

When machined surfaces need a high degree of flatness, bosses can be used to clearly define what areas need to be flatness controlled. Bosses can also simplify painting and other finishing operations.

Flat surfaces are difficult to machine, but at our precision machine shop, we can achieve superior surface flatness. Understanding the minimum surface flatness for your part’s functionality is a great way to save time and money during precision machining.

For more helpful design tips for CNC machined parts, download our eBook today! When you’re ready for precision machining services, go ahead and request a quote on our website.

Myth-Busting the Precision Machining Quoting Process

Quoting manufacturing jobs might seem relatively straightforward, but there’s much more to it than meets the eye. Customers often harbor misconceptions about quoting that are far from the truth.

We want to set the record straight on a few pervasive quoting myths to demystify the precision machining quoting process—and help you save valuable time.

3 Common Myths about Precision Machining Quoting

Myth #1: There are standard prices and lead times for everything

Quoting myths

Customers occasionally become frustrated when they receive different quotes for the same parts. But due to current market volatility, it’s more complicated than ever to predict the costs and lead times of materials and outside services.

Still, we always do our best to deliver precise and consistent quotes at our MA machine shop. Providing sufficient information in your initial RFQ helps us ensure quoting accuracy.

Be sure to include a 2D drawing and 3D model denoting dimensional and tolerance specifications and details like heat treating, plating, and testing requirements to streamline the quoting process.

Myth #2: Engineering change orders during the RFQ process are quick adjustments

Due to supply chain unpredictability, many customers submit RFQs before their designs are finalized to get the ball rolling on their projects.

This approach works in theory, but in reality, every time you update a tolerance, add a new feature, or make any other changes to your design, it could trigger a complete re-quote, even if you’ve already awarded the contract to a manufacturer. The extra quote time can delay your project.

At our precision machine shop, we’re happy to discuss projects before they’re ready to quote and even provide verbal ballpark pricing. We can also price out and purchase materials for our customers ahead of time, but we can’t deliver a formal quote until the part design is finalized.

Myth #3: Faster quoting is always better

It takes time to generate precise quotes. At Peerless Precision, we dedicate time up front to ensure the quotes we provide are accurate and fair.

The more complex a part is, the more planning is involved on our end. Quoting requires contacting individual vendors, determining tool cutting feed and speed rates for different materials, and other important considerations.

We prioritize precision in our entire manufacturing process, and we always turn quotes around as quickly as possible. But as an ISO certified machine shop, we never sacrifice quality and accuracy for speed.

How to Streamline the Precision Machining Quoting Process

Although the quoting process is more complex than many people think, there is one thing customers can do to ensure that they receive quotes promptly:

Provide as much information as possible with your RFQ.

The more we know about your part, the easier it is to deliver fast, accurate estimates. Reducing back and forth communications saves everyone time. Here’s a quick checklist of information to include in your RFQ:

  • A 2D drawing and 3D model conveying critical dimensions and tolerances
  • Specifications and requirements for special processes, like heat treating or plating
  • Any quality considerations or requirements, like non-destructive testing (NDT) or first article inspection (FAI)
  • Assembly requirements, such as hardware we need to purchase or additional parts we need to make for a subassembly

Ready to get a quote for precision machining services? Submit your information using our highly secure quoting form, and we’ll respond within 24 hours.

When to Choose Honing vs. Lapping for a Smooth Surface Finish

When your part needs an ultra-smooth surface finish, there are a few finishing operations precision machine shops use to get the job done.

Electropolishing, a common finishing process that removes a thin outer layer of metal to reduce roughness, might be sufficient. But if you need a surface finish finer than 16 Ra, honing or lapping are better alternatives.

What Are Honing and Lapping?

Honing vs Lapping

Honing and lapping both produce incredibly smooth, shiny finishes with exceptionally tight tolerances. These operations are ideal for high-precision parts commonly found in aerospace, medical, optical, and defense applications, such as:

  • Bearings
  • Matched sets (e.g., valve and sleeve or piston and sleeve sets)
  • Firearm components
  • Medical prosthetics

Despite their commonalities, honing and lapping are two distinct operations. Here’s what differentiates these services:

  • Process. Often used in conjunction with grinding, honing is an abrading process that involves using a machine to remove material at a low cutting speed. Lapping is a sanding method used to correct minor imperfections and make mating parts more precise.
  • Work area. Honing is specifically performed on the inner diameter (ID) of a cylindrical surface. Lapping is performed on both the ID and the outer diameter (OD) of a surface. We perform OD lapping on our roll lappers and ID lapping on our speed lathes. We can also perform manual lapping on some flat surfaces.
  • Speed. Honing equipment can only handle one part at a time, but lapping plates are capable of holding hundreds of parts, allowing for a fast turnaround. At our precision machine shop, we have three in-house roll lappers that we can run simultaneously to optimize lead times even further for our customers.
  • Tolerances. Honing is more precise than grinding, producing exceptionally tight finish tolerances of ±.00002” 8 Ra Finish. However, lapping is the go-to process if you need finish tolerances as tight as a millionth of an inch 2 Ra Finish.

Peerless Precision Is Your Trusted Source for Honing and Lapping

Peerless Precision is a tight tolerance machine shop specializing in honing and lapping. Here’s what makes us your trusted source for these services:

The right capabilities

We work with two different honing technologies at our precision machine shop: our newer Sunnen ML-4000 and an older piece of equipment. We generally use the Sunnen ML-4000 to perform most of the hard work, then finish the job with our faithful old machine.

We also have two types of lapping capabilities: match lapping machines and roll lapping machines. We typically use match lapping on our speed lathes for the inner diameter of a surface and roll lapping on the outer diameter of round parts.

An experienced team

Honing and lapping are complex processes, and ample training is required to perform them well. Only the most experienced machinists have the know-how to “feel” when a part is approaching the required tolerance.

At Peerless Precision, we’ve put in the work to master these techniques. We can hone and lap any metal you need, including tool steel, 400 series stainless steel, 300 series stainless steel, and titanium. We even work with glass-filled plastics!

The ability to scale

From prototyping to low-volume production, we hone and lap parts in a wide range of quantities depending on customers’ requirements.

If you know which finishing service you need, you can select our in-house finishing services à la carte. Just keep in mind that if your part’s surface finish needs to be finer than 16 Ra Finish, we may leverage grinding to perform the bulk of the work—ultimately, this decision will help optimize the cost and lead time of your project.

Still unsure which finishing operation is best for your part? We’re happy to help you make that determination. We’ll just need to know the surface finish or Ra requirements for optimum fit and functionality.

Request a quote from our tight tolerance machine shop today!

6 Keys to Successful Prototyping for Precision Machining

Are you considering working with a precision machine shop to develop a prototype?

Prototyping is, by nature, an iterative process, and getting a new part or product right takes time. Before requesting a quote for your prototype, it’s important to know what to expect so that you have the best experience possible.

What Precision Machining Customers Need to Know About Prototyping

Whether you’re a startup prototyping for the first time or a large company working on the next in a long line of prototype components, these tips can help you get the most out of the process:

1. Submit a PDF and a solid 3D model

Whenever possible, submit a PDF and a solid 3D model, so your precision machining partner has all the information they need to start building your prototype immediately.

PrototypingA good 3D model speeds up the programming process, especially for complex milled parts. Using the 3D model, we can export part data to our system and start running tool paths. If you don’t provide a 3D model, your manufacturing partner will need to create one. At Peerless Precision, we create models for our customers, but it does add to the total project lead time.

You’ll also need a 2D PDF drawing before your precision machine shop can begin prototyping. The PDF provides all the critical specifications for the prototype, including tolerances; materials; MIL-SPEC, AMS, or PSM spec requirements; and finishing processes.

2. Provide clear specifications and instructions

Use precise language in your PDF to minimize the risk of confusion or misinterpretation. For instance, referring to a material like titanium or aluminum too generally isn’t very helpful because there are dozens of grades and alloys, and they all have different properties. If you work with us and don’t have a material preference, state that in writing on your drawing. We’ll let you know what we select on your behalf.

There may be times when you don’t know the exact specs for what you need. In those cases, your manufacturer can probably point you to

subcontractors and share resources to help you make an informed decision. Just know that adding this step once you’ve initiated the prototyping process introduces a roadblock that can delay your project.

3. Anticipate changes

After the first prototype iteration is complete, expect a series of back-and-forth communications with your precision machine shop. At Peerless Precision, we send a customer their prototype so they can test it and adjust the design if necessary. Then, they send us the updated design so we can start working on the next iteration. It’s not uncommon to repeat this process several times.

We encourage customers to be highly responsive if they want their next iteration done quickly—standard lead times typically begin once a shop has your updated design in hand. The faster you test the prototype, adjust the design, and resubmit it, the faster the manufacturer can get to work.

4. Determine the quality you need at every phase

Choose a precision machine shop that delivers the quality you need at a cost you can manage. If you’re using your prototype to test for fit rather than function, you might not need an expensive prototype made to spec.

But if you’re looking for a high-quality prototype for testing fit, form, and function, you’ll want a precision machine shop that’s up to the task. Quality does come at a higher price, especially when dealing with low volumes, but chances are the cost per part will substantially decrease if you plan to enter production.

Prototyping

5. Think ahead to production

Do you know that you’ll be taking your prototype to production ahead of time? Many customers in this situation work with two different shops—one for prototyping and another for production. The drawback is that the production shop won’t know the ins and outs of your part, which can add time and cost to your project once it’s out of prototyping.

A better option is to select a precision machine shop that will grow with you from prototyping through production. They’ll already have all the operations and programs in place, which can save you time and money when your part is ready for production.

6. Reach out for help

If you outsource prototyping internationally, you may pay less for it, but you’ll likely have fewer opportunities to ask questions and may not receive prompt feedback—and in the prototyping world, those are significant losses.

When you work with the team at Peerless Precision, we’re a quick phone call away at all times, so you can easily reach out with any questions or concerns you have during prototyping. We’ll be in close touch with you, too, especially if we find ways to optimize manufacturability.

Looking for a precision machining partner who can work with you from prototype through production? Peerless Precision is here to fill that role and ensure a successful manufacturing process. Request a quote today to get started!

How Peerless Precision Leverages Vertical Integration for CNC Turned Parts

Did you know that most lathe parts need secondary operations? CNC turning is usually the first stop on a longer machining journey that can require a wide range of capabilities.

If a machine shop doesn’t offer a full complement of secondary and finishing services in-house, they’ll have to outsource certain operations, adding cost and time to a project. So why not find a one-stop shop that does it all?

We leverage vertical integration principles at Peerless Precision, combining multiple capabilities under one roof to deliver high-quality turned parts complete and ready to go.

In-house Precision Machined Lathe Parts

CNC turned parts start in our lathe department, which includes 3 Okuma lathes and 2 Hyundai Kia lathes outfitted with bar feeders to maximize efficiency and cost-effectiveness for our customers. Our Kias can load up to 3″ diameter bar stock, and our Okumas can load up to 6″ diameter bar stock, both accommodating a range of quantities from a single prototype to mid-volume production orders of a few thousand parts.

But CNC turning alone can’t always achieve the high degree of precision or complexity our customers need. We leverage various secondary operations to satisfy stringent requirements.

We typically transfer turned parts to other departments, such as CNC milling, to machine ultra-complex features, like cut-out windows and shaft facets.

In our CNC Turning and Milling Departments, we can achieve tolerances of ± .0002″ and surface finishes measuring 16 Ra. When tighter tolerances and better surface finishes are required, we have grinding, honing, lapping, burring, and polishing operations available in-house that can produce tolerances as tight as a millionth of an inch, surface finishes down to 2 Ra, and flatness to 1 Helium Light Band.

Lathe Parts We Commonly Manufacture In-House

Interested in working with us for your lathe parts? We’ve assembled a list of components we frequently manufacture for aerospace and defense applications. (But if you don’t see your application here, rest assured we can probably still make the part you need!)

Aerospace components

  • Matched sleeve and piston setsCNC Turned Parts
  • Engine control components
  • End cap housings for landing gear
  • Shut-off sleeves for engine control systems

Commercial and defense optics components

  • Lens housings for microscopes and 3D measuring systems
  • Parfocal adapters for commercial optics
  • Regenerator pistons and sleeves for camera systems
  • Ryton tubes for cryogenic systems
  • Stator housings for cameras
  • Coldfinger weldments for defense optics and cryogenic systems (Fun fact: We make so many that we have a dedicated lathe just for these parts!)

In addition to aerospace and defense machining, we frequently turn specific medical components, like housings for cranial bone drills.

We have a broad range of capabilities for your lathe parts right here in our Massachusetts machine shop. And in the rare case that we can’t perform the operations your part requires, we’ll work with our trusted vendors and manage the entire supply chain, so you don’t have to.

When you need lathe parts, come to a true one-stop shop like Peerless Precision. Request a quote today!

Superior Tungsten Machining at Peerless Precision

Tungsten, one of the hardest elements in the world, is a reliable material for numerous manufacturing applications that encounter high-intensity environments.

Tungsten boasts the highest boiling point of all chemical elements, and with the second-highest melting point (after carbon), it’s capable of withstanding extreme temperatures up to 6,192 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also naturally corrosion-resistant, repelling water and resisting most acids and bases.

In its purest form, tungsten is relatively malleable. But when combined with other elements, it becomes brittle and difficult to machine.

At Peerless Precision, we’ve worked hard to become tungsten experts and are excited to share some of our journey with you today. But first, we’ll break down everything you should know about tungsten machining.

Common Tungsten Applications

Over 100 years ago, William D. Coolidge first used tungsten filaments in incandescent light bulbs. Today, tungsten applications span a wide range of industries:

  • Aerospace. Tungsten alloys composed of at least 85% tungsten offer impressive stabilization compared to other metals. Tungsten’s high attenuation properties lessen the physical impact of force, dampening vibration for aerospace machining applications like helicopter blades, aircraft ballast weights, and missile components.
  • Electrical. Tungsten’s unrivaled heat-resistant properties make it an ideal choice for heating elements in electrical furnaces and other high-temperature applications. Tungsten also offers high electrical conductivity and can be used as a substrate in semiconductor rectifying devices.
  • Medical. Due to its high density and attenuation properties, tungsten is an excellent material for medical machining applications like radiation shielding and diagnostic medicine applications like computed tomography, external beam radiotherapy, and x-ray imaging.
  • Military and defense. Tungsten’s ultra-tough composition is well suited for projectile penetration applications like shrapnel heads and missiles used to breach armor. Tungsten alloy bullets are commonly used in large-caliber shelling, offering solid compression and deformation resistance.

Challenges of Machining Tungsten

Hard and brittle materials like tungsten are known for being difficult to cut. Tungsten machining can take years of trial and error to get right, requiring rigid fixturing and minimal spindle runout. Only the most skilled machinists have what it takes to machine it effectively.

Tungsten can be forged, drawn, extruded, or sintered, but no matter the manufacturing method, the tooling must be strong enough to withstand its incredible hardness. To minimize tool breakage and ensure a long tool life, we carefully research all tungsten alloys before machining so we know the optimal tooling to use. This process includes working closely with our tooling vendors and their representatives to identify the best tooling for the application and material we’re working on. Preserving the life of our tooling allows us to maintain reasonable costs and lead times for tungsten projects.

Careful adjustment of feeds and speeds is required during tungsten machining to balance tool health and machine time. If tungsten is machined too quickly, the tooling could break or damage the part. If it’s machined too slowly, the process is inefficient and costly. Experienced machinists can pinpoint the Goldilocks speed that’s just right.

Peerless Precision Journey to Becoming Tungsten Experts

Tungsten machining

At Peerless Precision, our dedicated research and development process and unwavering commitment to quality have helped establish us as tungsten machining experts.

In our early days of tungsten machining parts for a major customer, we discovered that the first of two CNC milling operations we had been performing went smoothly, but the second produced parts that cracked when flipped over. The parts continued to crack even more when we passed them through cylindrical grinding.

Determined to find a solution, we went back to the drawing board. We reviewed our programming and processes to figure out how to reduce cracking—but nothing seemed to work.

We decided it was time to evaluate the material itself and learned that using a purer and less brittle form of tungsten was the solution we had been looking for. This high-quality tungsten would maintain its hardness properties and be malleable enough to machine effectively.

Sourcing the perfect tungsten was no easy feat. We tried 5 different mills before finally finding the winner: Federal Carbide Company, a Pennsylvania mill that sources tungsten domestically. Cracking was less of an issue once we started using their tungsten, and our scrap rate dropped from 30% to 2%! We now source all of our tungsten from this trusted supplier—and our customers reap the benefits.

We’ll stop at nothing to get you the parts you need. If you’re looking for tungsten experts for your next project, look no further than Peerless Precision. Request a quote today!

Dock to Stock Precision CNC Machining Services for the Aerospace Industry

Over the years, we’ve proven to our customers that we’re a reliable job shop capable of consistently manufacturing high-quality parts.

Because Peerless Precision has a reputation for being so dependable, our customers usually stick with us long-term. In fact, we’ve been working with some of our aerospace customers for over 20 years—and during that time, our commitment to quality has continuously exceeded their expectations.

Our ability to maintain strong relationships and our commitment to machining top-notch parts has helped us qualify as a dock to stock supplier for prime contractors to the Department of Defense as well as for major aerospace manufacturers. Achieving this highly regarded status allows us to create even more efficiencies for our customers.

What Is a Dock to Stock Supplier?

When a shop proves that they’re capable of machining a part repeatedly and reliably for a customer, they have the opportunity to become a dock to stock supplier of that part.

Having already undergone comprehensive quality assurance, parts from a designated supplier bypass the customer’s inspection process entirely. Customers receive the part on their loading dock and it goes directly into their stock—hence the term dock to stock. This streamlined process saves customers significant time and prevents them from having to hold excess inventory while awaiting inspection.

Becoming an approved dock to stock supplier is challenging and takes years to accomplish. Shops must maintain strong relationships with customers and consistently meet the goal of zero escapes. Certifications are given on a part by part basis, meaning a supplier must demonstrate the quality and consistency of their work for every unique part they make.

Peerless Precision Is a Top Dock to Stock Supplier

We’re incredibly proud to be a dock to stock aerospace machine shop. Here’s what makes us so great at what we do:

Dock to stock

  • Ability to hold tight tolerances. When it comes to aerospace machining, accuracy is everything. If tolerances are off by even a millionth of an inch, an engine could seize up or a fuel system could malfunction. Our high-accuracy CNC machines and talented machinists are capable of holding tolerances within +/- 0.000005” on critical aerospace parts such as valve and piston sleeve sets for fuel injection systems.
  • Experience with a wide range of materials. In addition to machining standard materials like aluminum and steel, we’re experts at machining titanium. This common material used in aerospace machining is notoriously challenging to work with due to its inherent hardness and low thermal conductivity. We have the right capabilities, equipment, and personnel to excel at the toughest titanium jobs.
  • Commitment to quality. We never compromise on quality at Peerless Precision. From comprehensive research and development to thorough First Article Inspections (FAIs), our processes always put quality first. When we make a new set of parts for the first time, we perform 100% inspection on each individual part, regardless of the order quantity, and provide extremely detailed reports. As a dock to stock aerospace supplier, we further guarantee quality with our AS9100 machine shop certification.
  • Unrelenting tenacity. Earning dock to stock approval takes incredible persistence and dedication. We can’t afford any missteps with dock to stock parts, and the processes are rife with approvals and paperwork. But the lasting relationships we build with customers are well worth the effort. We’re always willing to go the extra mile for them.
  • Focus on improvement. We’re always looking for new ways to streamline our processes and refine our operations. Our team members participate in lean manufacturing training to help our shop eliminate waste, cut costs, and inspire innovation. We’re also increasing our cybersecurity knowledge by pursuing Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), Level 3 for the Department of Defense.

Peerless Precision is committed to providing our customers with the highest quality parts. Could you benefit from our expertise? Let’s build a new relationship! Request a quote today to get started.

The Value of Research & Development in Precision Machining

Making a part for the first time is always exciting. Anytime our team has the opportunity to create something original, step outside our comfort zone, and build new skills, we’re up for the challenge!

But diving into a new project doesn’t mean going in unprepared. To ensure that every customer order results in top-quality parts, we perform intensive research and development to help us gather as much information as possible before machining even begins.

Our Research and Development Process

There’s a reason customers come to Peerless Precision for new and complex parts, and it’s not just because we excel at holding extremely tight tolerances. We’re also committed to figuring out the intricacies of every part we make. Our thorough R&D process goes from conception to completion:

Programming

The true success of a CNC machining program relies heavily on the preparation completed beforehand. This preparation involves defining operations, sequencing machining orders, and performing all the necessary calculations to make sure parts are machined correctly.

At Peerless Precision, we don’t stop until the CNC programming is right—because when the programming is off, the project is doomed to fail.

Material Selection

Whether your part requires aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, or something more exotic, we’re committed to doing all the necessary research to tackle the job. From studying material properties to experimenting with different feeds, speeds, and tooling, we learn everything we can about any new material we’ll be working with.

Precision Machining

Research and Development

The smaller and more complex the part, the more internal research and development is necessary for precision machining. Customers looking for aerospace machining services often come to us for mixed assemblies, which require the utmost precision.

For example, we’re uniquely equipped to machine piston and sleeve assemblies and valve and sleeve assemblies to the tight diametrical clearances required for fuel injection systems in airplanes and helicopters. The stakes are high for these projects because if the tolerances are off by just one millionth of an inch, the engine could fail.

But thanks to our thorough research and development process, we’re prepared to machine these assemblies to spec with scrupulous precision.

Take our longtime customer, who had an issue with the pin and sleeve matched sets that they were receiving from another supplier. None of the pins and sleeves had the match fit that the customer had called out on their specifications, so the engineer was stuck sanding them down at their desk to make them fit.

When the engineer was referred to Peerless, we asked them to send us the pin and sleeve sets that were not matching: not only did we bring them to spec through honing and match lapping, we ensured that all the pin and sleeve sets were interchangeable.

Additionally, we offered to make 10 interchangeable sample sets from scratch. If the parts worked for the customer, only then would we bill them for the parts. We were willing to take the risk because we knew we could deliver exactly what the customer wanted—no additional sanding required. Thanks to our diligent R&D process and precision machining capabilities, all 10 sets matched perfectly and were within tolerance range. Now if something happens to either component, the customer can easily pull a replacement from stock, confident that the pin will fit the sleeve and vice versa.

Inspection

Once we have a clear idea of how to machine your part, we then build it out for confirmation. Our top-of-the-line machines and inspection equipment ensure we’re holding tolerances to spec and meeting all quality requirements. We’re also AS9100D and ISO 9001:2015 certified, so you can be certain that we’re in compliance with the most exacting industry standards.

Testing

Research and development starts before machining begins and continues until after it’s finished. The final phase of the R&D process is testing to ensure we’re handing over a high quality part that functions flawlessly.

When proving out a new concept, we make several parts in our Massachusetts machine shop specifically for testing. (Don’t worry, we never charge customers for these extra parts!) We then test the parts for consistency and functionality using our in-house inspection equipment.

We’re always willing to go the extra mile for customers, no matter what level of testing they require. Take the pin test we developed for the coldfinger weldments we manufacture for another customer. We machined a pin gauge, then worked together with the customer to design a drop test. To pass the test, the pin gauge needed to drop down the sleeve shaft freely, without touching any sides. We perform the pin test before parts leave our shop, and our customer performs the pin test once parts arrive onsite. We check in every 6 months to reevaluate the function of the pin gauge and recalibrate it if necessary.

Research and development should be a given every time a manufacturer makes a part for the first time. The key is to find a shop that goes above and beyond your expectations to ensure they get it right.

Trust Peerless Precision to put in the work. Request a quote today to get started.

What It Takes to Excel at Titanium Machining

When you need an ultra-strong part with an excellent fatigue life, titanium is a great choice of material.

This versatile metal has a uniquely high tensile strength to weight ratio: it weighs about half as much as stainless steel but is nearly 30% stronger! In addition to its exceptional strength, titanium is also known for being rust and corrosion-resistant.

Available in many varieties, titanium can be alloyed with aluminum, manganese, iron, and other metals to further increase its strength, as well as its ability to withstand high temperatures.

But despite the many benefits of titanium, any job shop will tell you that it’s notoriously difficult to machine. That’s why when you need titanium machined parts, you need a shop you can trust.

At Peerless Precision, we have the right capabilities, equipment, and personnel to take on the toughest titanium jobs. Today, we’ll explore common titanium applications, plus machining challenges that we’ve managed to overcome with great success.

Common Titanium Applications

Titanium Coldfingers

Due to titanium’s durability, it’s extremely useful for a wide variety of applications. If you’re in any of these industries, your parts could benefit from this material:

  • Medical. Known for its bacteria-resistant properties, titanium is often used in medical machining for applications such as implants, surgical devices, and pacemakers.
  • Aerospace. In high-risk aerospace applications requiring heat resistance and strength, such as airframes and engines, titanium is a trustworthy material that never fails.
  • Automotive. Because titanium can withstand temperatures of over 600 degrees, it’s ideal for hot environments. Internal combustion engine components such as valves, connecting rods, and pistons and sleeves are often made from titanium.
  • Defense. Salt water has virtually no corrosive effect on titanium, making this material a great choice for Navy parts that come into direct contact with the sea, like propeller shafts and underwater manipulators.
  • Water and energy. Titanium impellers are often used for centrifugal pumps to move fluids away from the center of rotation.
  • Commercial optics. As experts in optical machining, we specialize in making titanium coldfinger weldments used in submicro cryogenic cooling systems for infrared, night vision, and thermal imaging equipment.

Challenges of Machining Titanium

Here’s a look at what makes titanium so difficult to machine:

  • Material hardness. While it’s not hard enough to require diamond turning, titanium is significantly harder than stainless steel or aluminum. Machining titanium often results inbroken tools and workpieces if not done carefully.
  • Special tooling requirements. Machining titanium requires coated carbide tooling to maximize cutting strength while minimizing friction that can lead to work hardening. We have a dedicated dual-spindle CNC lathe for titanium coldfinger weldments, but we can generally run titanium in any of our machines with the correct tooling.
  • Research and development. When machining a new titanium part, machine shops often need to experiment to get the process right. Many shops will no-quote customers or attempt to machine titanium without putting in that necessary upfront work, but not Peerless Precision. We do what it takes to machine titanium parts to perfection.

Peerless Precision Excels at Titanium Machining

Want a quick example of why we’re the go-to shop for titanium machining? Recently, a customer reached out to us in need of a coldfinger weldment. The part included a titanium cone with a wall thickness of .002”. The customer had already been to several shops that turned the job down and one that couldn’t machine the part properly.

Nevertheless, we were excited to take on the challenge. We offered the customer a non-recurring expense budget for research and development so we could determine how to properly machine the part. By intricately cutting the cone, we verified the right thickness, and now we’re prepared to purchase tooling to try different machining methods until we get it right.

Our titanium expertise has been years in the making. When we first started machining titanium coldwells, for example, it was common for us to lose 100 parts before getting a good one. But that was 25 years ago. Since perfecting our technique, we haven’t had to scrap a titanium coldwell since.

When it comes to machining titanium, you need a dedicated shop with a proven track record. Make Peerless Precision your one-stop titanium shop. Request a quote today

5 Time-Saving Benefits of 5-Axis Machining

 

When you need complex parts made fast, you need a machine shop with advanced technology to deliver precision parts with a quick turnaround.

But if the job shop you go to uses 3 or 4-axis machines to make intricate parts, you could be stuck dealing with unnecessarily long lead times.

At Peerless Precision, our 5-axis machining capabilities guarantee high quality and unparalleled efficiency while saving customers time and money.

5 Axis Machining

How Does 5-Axis Machining Differ from 3 and 4-Axis Machining?

In standard 3-axis milling, a cutting tool rotates along the X, Y, and Z axes to remove material from a fixed workpiece. By machining standards, it’s a relatively slow process that’s ideal for machining simple parts.

4-axis machining is the next step up, adding an additional axis of movement to the cutting tool so that it can rotate around the X axis. Unlike with 3-axis milling, the workpiece itself also rotates, allowing for both milling and turning capabilities.

Finally, 5-axis machining adds yet another rotational axis, enabling access to the workpiece from any direction with a single setup. This versatile technology is commonly used to machine high-precision parts with complex features.

5 Time-Saving Benefits of 5-Axis Machining

5-axis machines offer various benefits that decrease lead time to deliver complex parts faster:

1. Reduced need for fixturing.

Since 3-axis machines are unable to rotate parts, special fixturing is required to machine certain features. But on a 5-axis machine, it’s possible to hold a part in one position and rotate it to achieve complex geometries.

5 Axis Machining2. Complex feature capabilities.

Rotating on an additional axis allows 5-axis machines to maneuver complex geometries and tight angles with greater reach and flexibility.

For example, take a look at this cylinder for an actuator assembly. The contours and bosses on this aluminum part would have taken at least four operations on our 4-axis mill. On a 5-axis machine, we are able to achieve the required features and geometries in only two operations.

3. Shorter run times.

5-axis tooling easily reaches all sides of a part, removing material exceptionally fast and cutting slashing cycle times by up to 50%.

We recently machined parts for thermal imaging and night vision cameras for one of our defense customers. Using 5-axis machining capabilities, we successfully reduced first operation times from 2.5 hours to 1.25 hours and second operation times from 1.25 hours to 20 minutes!

4. Smoother surface finishes.

There are 3D milling capabilities built into our 5-axis machines that allow us to achieve extremely smooth surfaces on parts, reducing the need for extensive finishing operations.

Because the part is much closer to the cutting tool than on a 3 or 4-axis machine, we can use a shorter tool that produces less vibration and produces a smoother surface finish.

5. Fewer setups.

Having to manually rotate a part on a 3-axis machine means programming multiple setups to achieve complex features on multiple faces. Not only is this process inefficient, but it also introduces the risk of incorrect alignment each time the part is repositioned.

On the flip side, 5-axis machining accesses a greater number of part faces simultaneously, minimizing the need for setups.

The best thing about 5-axis CNC machining services at Peerless Precision is that you’ll never pay more for this advanced technology. Our CNC milling rate is the same across all machines. So if you see 5-axis machining on your quote, don’t panic! You’ll actually end up saving time and money.

We’re happy to quote your part for you both ways (3 or 4-axis vs. 5-axis) so you can see for yourself the difference that 5-axis machining makes. Request a quote from our MA machine shop today!

We Supply Parts To:

  • Curtis Wright
  • EATON
  • FLIR
  • Kaman
  • Curtis Wright
  • EATON
  • FLIR
  • Kaman