The aeronautical industry has experienced different phases of growth and slowdown over the years. According to the 'Global Fleet & MRO Market Forecast 2021-2031' report, the global fleet is expected to reach 36,500 aircraft by 2031. Leading aeronautical companies such as Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Thales, Safran, and Leonardo SpA focus on innovation for the development of new technologies and solutions in order to create new markets and expand growth opportunities. Regarding aeronautical machining in part manufacturing, it still maintains a high degree of craftsmanship in some of its stages. It should be noted that the production series of aircraft usually does not exceed a thousand units. Current manufacturing processes are geared towards more efficient technologies, such as additive manufacturing.
MACHINING PARTS FOR AERONAUTICS
Aeronautical machining encompasses a wide range of parts that are essential for the operation of aircraft. These parts require exceptional precision and quality, and lathes provide the capability to manufacture them to the highest standards. Let's take a look at some of the key parts that are machined with lathes for the aerospace sector:
- Turbine blades: These parts direct the flow of exhaust gases in the engine, generating the necessary force to propel the aircraft.
- Engine casings: Engine casings are external structures that protect the internal components of the engine.
- Frames: Frames are structures that are part of the aircraft's structural system. They provide support and rigidity, distributing loads and stresses throughout the structure.
- Actuators: These devices are used to control different systems in the aircraft, such as landing gear, flaps, and rudders, allowing for proper movement and operation.
- Bolts: Bolts are fastening elements used to join and secure different parts of the aircraft.
- Shafts: They transmit motion and energy between different parts of the system, such as the engine and the propellers.
- Fittings: These parts are used to connect systems and components in the aircraft's fuel system, ensuring controlled fuel flow.
- Instrument panels: These visual elements are used in the aircraft's control panels, providing important information about the status and performance of its systems.
- Supports: Supports are used to hold and secure different components and systems in the aircraft. Their function is to ensure safe and reliable assembly.
- Bearings: Bearings are low-friction elements used to enable smooth and efficient movement of different parts of the aircraft, such as the landing gear and control surfaces.
ADVANTAGES OF USING LATHES FOR AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
In a production process where every micron matters, equipping oneself with top-level machinery adds immeasurable value to the quality of the final product. CNC lathes are robust, powerful, and reliable machines that allow for the manufacture of parts requiring a high degree of precision. This added value is supported by the following advantages:
- Precision: Lathes allow for highly accurate machining, resulting in high-quality parts with a perfect fit.
- Efficiency: Automation of lathes enables faster and more efficient production, reducing manufacturing downtime and increasing productivity. The Gantry Loader system is a great ally in processes where minimal human intervention is required, prioritizing unmanned work.
- Flexibility: Lathes can machine a wide variety of materials, providing flexibility in the manufacturing of parts for the aeronautical industry.
- Repeatability: Lathes guarantee repeatability in part manufacturing without deviation, allowing for high standards of quality and consistency.
- Error reduction: Precise programming of numerical control minimizes human errors and reduces the possibility of failures or imperfections in manufactured parts.
- Resource optimization: Lathes enable efficient use of materials, minimizing waste and optimizing resources in the aeronautical machining process.
MOST DEMANDED LATHES FOR AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
The following are the most frequent and in-demand processes for using lathes in the aeronautic sector
ENGINE COMPONENTS IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
In the aeronautical industry, engine components play a crucial role in the operation and performance of aircraft. These parts are responsible for generating the power and propulsion necessary for flight. Here are some specific examples of engine components used in aeronautics:
- Transmission shafts: Transmission shafts are mechanical elements that transmit the energy generated by the engine to other parts of the aircraft, such as the propellers or auxiliary systems. Lathes allow for turning and milling operations to achieve the required shape and precise tolerances.
- Compressor blades: Blades are designed to increase the air pressure before it enters the combustion chamber. Lathes are used for turning and milling operations on resistant materials such as titanium alloys or superalloys, ensuring the optimal aerodynamic shape of the blades and the required tight tolerances.
- Actuators on exhaust nozzles: Exhaust nozzles are components that channel the engine's exhaust gases, maximizing propulsion efficiency by providing proper gas flow. Lathes are involved in operations such as turning and milling on heat-resistant materials, such as nickel alloys.
STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
Structural components in aeronautical machining are responsible for providing strength, rigidity, and structural support to the aircraft, ensuring its integrity and load-carrying capacity. Here are the main structural components that can be machined using lathes:
- Supports: Supports are structural elements designed to provide support and resistance to other components or systems in the aircraft. They can be engine supports, electronic equipment supports, hydraulic system supports, among others. Aeronautical machining with lathes provides precision to geometric details and achieves tight tolerances to ensure proper installation and operation of the supports.
- Sliding rails: Sliding rails are used in movement and displacement systems, such as sliding seats in the aircraft cabin. These rails allow for smooth and secure movement of seats, providing comfort and functionality to passengers. The use of lathes in the aeronautical machining of rails makes it possible to create carriage components with better adjustments to ensure smooth sliding.
AERONAUTICAL MECHANICAL SYSTEMS
Mechanical systems in aeronautics ensure the safe and efficient operation of aircraft as they are responsible for controlling and regulating various aspects of flight, such as movement, stability, direction, and other critical functions. Here are some of the most commonly used components:
- Actuators: Actuators convert hydraulic, pneumatic, or electric energy into mechanical motion. These devices are used to control control surfaces such as ailerons, rudders, and flaps, allowing changes in the aircraft's attitude and maneuverability. Lathes are involved in the manufacturing of key parts, such as the actuator rod and force transmission elements.
- Universal joints: Also known as cardan joints, these mechanical devices allow the transmission of motion and power between axes at variable angles. They transmit motion from actuators to control surfaces.
- Shafts: Cylindrical components used in control systems to transmit motion from actuators to different parts of the aircraft. They are present in steering mechanisms, braking systems, landing gear systems, and other control systems. Lathes are useful for machining the cylindrical surfaces, mounting holes, and connection details, providing dimensional precision, surface smoothness, and tight tolerances necessary for reliable and durable shaft operation.
- Levers: Levers are control elements that allow for the transmission and amplification of forces and movements in control systems, used in a variety of applications such as steering systems, braking systems, and flight control systems. Lathes help in machining precise shapes, mounting holes, and grip details.
CONNECTIONS AND FITTINGS IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
Connections and fittings ensure the structural integrity, safety, and strength of the aircraft during flight. The most common ones in aeronautics include:
- Bolts: Bolts are fastening elements used to join parts and components of the aircraft. They have a head at one end and a thread at the other end, and they are used in various applications, such as panel joining, structure assembly, and component fixation. Lathes are often used to machine the threaded part of the bolt, as well as to create the appropriate head, which can have different shapes depending on the required design.
- Nuts: Nuts are components used in combination with bolts to provide a secure and strong connection. They are generally hexagonal in shape and have an internal thread that matches the bolt's thread. Nuts secure the connection of components in the aircraft structure, such as panels, supports, and other elements. Lathes are the best ally for machining the internal thread and the hexagonal shape of the nut with precision.
- Studs: Studs are fastening elements similar to bolts but without a head. They have a thread on both ends and are used to fasten parts and components of the aircraft where a protruding head is not required. Studs are used in applications such as panel fastening, support fastening, and structural components.
- Clamps: These fastening elements are used to join, secure, and fasten cables, pipes, and other elements in the aircraft. They consist of a metal band in the shape of a ring with a clamp or locking system to provide a firm grip. Clamps are used in wiring systems, fuel systems, hydraulic systems, and other aircraft systems.
LANDING GEAR COMPONENTS IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
The landing gear plays a crucial role in aviation as it determines the safety of takeoff and landing. These components support and guide the aircraft during takeoff, landing, and taxiing phases. The main landing gear components are:
- Shafts: These cylindrical elements used in the landing gear provide a connection and structural support between the wheels and the suspension system. They are characterized by their resistance to loads and wear. The use of lathes allows for machining cylindrical surfaces, threads, and mounting details.
- Bushings: They are cylindrical elements with an inner and outer bore used to provide a bearing and reduce friction between moving parts of the landing gear, such as axles and supports. Their main functions are to ensure smooth movement and wear resistance.
- Bearings: Bearings allow for smooth and controlled movement of moving parts, such as wheels and axles. These components consist of a structure of balls or rollers in an outer and inner ring. In the manufacturing of bearings, CNC lathes are used to machine the outer and inner rings, as well as the contact surfaces of the balls or rollers.
- Supports: These structural components are used to fix and support parts of the landing gear, such as axles, wheels, and bushings. They are strong and capable of withstanding loads and forces applied during takeoff, landing, and taxiing. During their manufacturing process, lathes serve to machine mounting surfaces, structural shapes, and fastening details.
FUEL SYSTEMS IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
Fuel systems provide the necessary fuel supply for the operation of the aircraft's engines, storing, transporting, and distributing fuel safely and efficiently. The most common components are:
- Fuel injectors: They atomize and supply fuel into the engine's combustion chamber in a controlled and efficient manner. Fuel injectors have a series of holes and nozzles that allow for fine fuel spray. The use of lathes in their manufacturing process helps in machining nozzles, holes, and connection surfaces.
- Fittings: They connect different sections of pipes and hoses. They are responsible for providing a secure and leak-proof connection for fuel flow. Fittings can have different shapes and sizes, and they are used in straight connections, angled connections, or branching connections. In the manufacturing of fittings, lathes are used to machine threads, sealing surfaces, and required shapes.
- Fuel system valves: These parts control the flow and pressure of fuel in the system, ensuring adequate supply under different flight conditions. Valves can be of various types, such as cut-off valves, pressure regulation valves, and drain valves.
INSTRUMENTATION IN AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
Instrumentation plays a fundamental role in aeronautics by providing critical information about the status and performance of the aircraft during flight. These systems allow for measurement, control, and visualization of various parameters such as speed, altitude, temperature, pressure, among others. Some of the components involving lathes in their manufacturing process are:
- Display mounts: Their function is to secure and hold displays and visualizers in the aircraft's cabin, providing a secure and adjustable mounting for optimal information display. Lathes machine the structural parts of the mount, such as mounting arms and fixing plates.
- Indicator housings: They protect and house the indicators and gauges in the aircraft's instrumentation. These housings provide a sturdy structure and protection against the flight environment. Lathes can be used to machine the outer shapes, openings for indicators, and mounting surfaces.
- Control panel components: Control panel components are elements used to house and organize switches, buttons, and controls in the aircraft's cabin. These components allow for convenient access and intuitive operation of systems and functions.
REASONS TO BUY LATHES FOR AERONAUTICAL MACHINING
The strategic advantages of including a significant budget for the purchase of machinery, specifically CNC lathes, are undeniable. Buying lathes for aeronautical machining offers numerous advantages, including the following:
- Internal production capacity: Having their own lathes allows for greater control over the manufacturing process and reduces dependence on external suppliers.
- Improved competitiveness: The ability to manufacture high-quality parts in-house improves the company's competitiveness in the aerospace market.
- Adaptability to demand: Lathes offer flexibility to adapt to changes in demand, enabling a more agile and efficient response to customer needs.
- Innovation and development: Owning lathes opens the door to innovation and the development of new solutions and products in the field of aeronautical machining.
- Long-term savings: Although the initial investment in lathes can be significant, in the long run, it translates into cost savings in production and increased profitability. For example, CMZ lathes have a lifespan of over 20 years, making the investment highly profitable.
Aeronautical machining plays a crucial role in manufacturing parts for the aerospace industry. Lathes are essential tools in this process, enabling the production of high-quality, precise, and efficient parts. From engine components to control systems, connections, and fittings, aeronautical machining encompasses a wide range of key parts for the aerospace industry. The acquisition of CNC lathes offers numerous strategic advantages, improving competitiveness and adaptability to market demands.
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