What Is Aerospace CNC Machining?

Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining includes milling, turning, routing, and other material removal operations. The advantage of using a computerized system to control tools and equipment is the great precision, repeatability, and speed computers have.

A computer model of the part is made using computer-aided drafting (CAD) software, then the design is translated into computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) codes and instructions. CNC machines use CAM data to perform a series of exact cuts, movements, and operations to create the part. The program is run with each new blank or workpiece for results with exceptional consistency. Many industries use CNC machining processes for critical parts, including the aerospace industry.

At Helander Metal Spinning Company we provide high-quality CNC turning and milling services. We also offer hydroforming, metal rolling, tooling design, metal polishing, and welding to meet customer requirements.

Learn more about our CNC capabilities for the aerospace industry.

Aerospace CNC Machining Applications

The aerospace industry includes a variety of commercial and military aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, missiles, and unmanned flight equipment. Components used in these vehicles and equipment must be very durable to withstand extreme temperatures and forces, but also lightweight to enable efficient flight. The critical nature of aircraft components means tolerances are tight with little room for variation or error.

CNC machining is beneficial for aerospace applications because all movements of the cutting tools are controlled by a computer. This means the tools repeat the same motions in the same order over and over. Positioners and clamps hold blanks securely in place to ensure part geometry is accurate and features are located correctly.

Some examples of CNC machined parts for aerospace use include:

  • Electrical Connectors: These components are critical to the many electrical systems in aircraft, spacecraft, and other equipment.
  • Valve Components: Valves control the pressure and flow of gases and fluids in pneumatic and hydraulic systems, fuel systems, thermal control, propulsion systems, and with tanks, pipes, and tubing.
  • Oxygen Generation Components: Machined parts are used in oxygen generation systems where strong, lightweight, and temperature-resistant materials are needed.
  • Shafts: Strong metal shafts transmit power between motors and other equipment. These parts must not have structural flaws or dimensional variation to ensure proper fit and function.

Metal Materials Used in Aerospace CNC Machining

At Helander, we work with these and other metals for aerospace applications:

  • Aluminum Alloys: Aluminum is a lightweight metal with a high strength-to-weight ratio. It has a low density and most alloys are highly corrosion-resistant. Aluminum is malleable and easy to work and machine. Depending on requirements it can be a cost-effective alternative to stainless steel.
  • Titanium Alloys: These are stronger than aluminum, with low density and high corrosion resistance, especially grades 2 and 5. Titanium is very durable and can be exposed to very high temperatures over 600°F for prolonged times, making it an option for engines and other high-temperature settings.
  • Stainless Steel: This iron-based material must have at least 10.5% chromium. Series 300 and 400 stainless steel are common in aerospace applications such as battery boxes, as part of cylinder fins, and in fuel tanks. The 300 series is machinable, resistant to high temperatures, and resists cracking and thermal shock, while the 400 series is easy to machine and ductile with a high strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Inconel: This series of specialty metals are alloys of nickel that also contain chromium and iron. They resist oxidation, corrosion, very high temperatures, and settings where temperatures cycle between extremes. Inconel 600 is one form that is used in jet engines and airframe components.

Aerospace CNC Machining Services by Helander

At Helander, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality parts using advanced manufacturing processes and equipment. In addition to a full line of CNC machines, our capabilities include hydroforming, metal rolling, polishing, welding, and engineering support.

Request a quote to start your order or to learn more about our machining services.