The Evolution of the Manufacturing of Precision Parts


Evolution of the Manufacturing Process

Long ago, a gun was built one at a time with parts that were made by hand and roughly fit together as best as could be. If one of the gun parts broke or was damaged, a new part would have to be made as close to the size and shape of the broken or damaged part. The United States military needed someone to come up with a way to manufacture muskets on an extremely large scale. Eli Whitney, the inventor, recognized that developing a way to make interchangeable parts for muskets would change manufacturing processes forever.

In the early 1800s, Eli Whitney is credited by some to have appeared before congress with handmade muskets that had interchangeable parts. The idea of using the same parts over and over again was a great idea but the cost for producing these muskets was too much for the government. The muskets were expertly made but too expensive. The process for manufacturing interchangeable parts didn’t exist at this time. Eventually, other inventors built on these ideas and developed machinery that could make machine parts much more quickly and consistently accurate than those parts made by hand.

Gradually, machines replaced the hand tools used by the skilled craftsman. These machines could cut, grind, polish, make holes in metal and other materials. The manufacturing machines were built to hold the material being cut in a way that the tool could be guided to achieve the required results. Eventually, freehand work would become machine work. With this move from handmade to machine made, the ability to create accurate measurements and consistent parts became a reality.

Computerization of the manufacturing machines allowed manufacturers to produce even more precise parts than ever before. With a method called computer numerical control or CNC, a part begins as a 3D model. The CNC will take the 3D model of the part and create a file. The file is then used to make a piece of metal into the part specified. In a CNC mill, the metal or material is cut, shaved, and milled to the exact dimensions taken from the model. To get a finished prototype, the CNC mill may have to cut, shave, and mill many parts before the part is acceptable for the application it is to be made for.

A precision part is just that, a part that is made in such a way that industries can count on its dimensions being accurate to the point that the part will easily interface with other parts and that it will consistently do it over and over and over again. To be competitive in manufacturing industries today, having to file and tweak each individual part to get it to fit into an assembly would simply put companies out of business. Mass producing a washer, shim, or stamping takes no time at all with the equipment and computer-driven programs that are used today. When ordering precision parts from us, you can do so knowing that each part will fit and if it needs to be replaced, you will be able to easily find a replacement part just like the original one.

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