Metal shops are some of the most hazardous working environments—rotating heavy metal objects at high speeds (3000 RPMs!) can be dangerous if improperly handled, but using proper safety protocols has been a standard practice for metal shops for quite a long time. Still, there are ways to increase safety within a shop by evaluating the technology used. Plus, machine shops typically have requests from customers to produce metal parts with extremely high tolerances, sometimes parts that manual methods can’t accurately produce. More sophisticated metal shops use HMI panels to control machinery in order to shape the metal to specification. Here are three ways computers have improved metal shops and their machining methods.
Metal can be Cut via CNC
A manual lathe is a very common machine used to shape metal into a variety of forms; however, they’re known for being very dangerous if not used properly. A hydraulic clamp suspends a piece of aluminum, steel, or another metal, and starts spinning the metal at very high speeds. Then, a machinist controls an arm and slowly guides a diamond-tipped insert into the surface of the metal, chipping off slivers and shards. You may likely see the problems here already; the metal chipped off is typically very hot and gets flung around because manual lathes aren’t often housed inside protective barriers. A machinist has to guide the arm into the metal to properly shape it. It requires a lot of hand-eye coordination skill controlling the lathe to properly shape parts—or else a potential part is rendered to scrap.
Machinists can use an HMI panel to control a CNC machine in order to automatically shape a part. It requires less time and experience than manual machines and can produce parts with higher tolerances, more consistently, at a quicker pace. The part schematics can be entered into the resistive touch screen PC on the CNC and then the raw metal can be cut automatically without having to train employees how to properly control it. The part is made, time is saved, and safety is higher!
Bending Metals with Industrial Computers
Not all metal shops are focused on shaping parts! Some actually take damaged and bent parts in for repair. Propellers, for instance. Rather than haphazardly hammering a propeller back into shape—a practice that won’t yield successful results quickly—many metal shops use an industrial computer to scan the damaged propeller, compare it to an original model, and then control a hydraulic machine to bend the propeller back to its original state. A machinist can use an HMI panel to track and adjust the propeller so it’s reshaped for proper use. It’s a much more effective (and cheaper) method of restoring damaged propellers instead of machining an entirely new set of blades.
Temperature Changes Abound
The inside of a machine shop can have extreme fluctuations in temperature. The cutting process alone can produce incredible heat that could potentially damage electronic equipment like a computer. Beyond that, the temperature inside of a machine shop can be greatly influenced by the temperatures outside. Hot and humid conditions in the summer months can wreak havoc on internal components. In the same way, colder weather in the winter months can lead to hardware failure.
That’s why industrial computers are manufactured with high-quality military-grade components with very stringent tolerances and metals that resist warping. These kinds of metals are resilient to small and even large fluctuations in temperature changes. The benefit is that the computers last longer with better quality transistors and capacitors, and a higher Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rating of 50 thousand hours. Machine shops often run these computers at all times to maximize their production rate. These kind of builds are necessary for production sustainment. It’s best for businesses to invest in industrial computers since they fail less, expanding the time between each purchasing cycle, and thus saving money and time.
Industrial computers and HMI panels benefit machine shops in a myriad of ways; more accurate part machining when they’re coupled with CNC machines, higher safety standards, and saving the business time and money with higher quality materials that withstand temperature changes. If you’re serious about getting the best quality computers to run your metal shop, consider investing in an industrial computer today. Contact us for more information.