Posted on: May 8, 2018, | By Kenzi, WayKen Project Manager
With the development of technologies and communication among the world, more and more designers are turning their attention to the machining services in many Asian countries. Especially nowadays, China has become one of the most important technological countries in the world. Thus, many developing technologies have been rising up, and one of these technologies is rapid CNC prototyping. This rapid CNC prototyping service in China has occurred in the recent 2 decades and now we have many kinds of services offered to designers or companies among the world, such as plastic CNC machining, aluminum machining, and low-volume vacuum casting, SLA, SLS, rapid tooling and so on.
Plastic CNC Machining
Regarding the plastics, most of the plastics widely used on the finish products can be found in the prototyping industries, for example, ABS, PC, ABS+PC, acrylic, nylon, POM, PEI, etc.
- ABS, this is the most common material adopted. This material is cheap and can be made into various colors with more than 90% glossy performance. ABS is easy to bond with other materials and will be no problem to do painting, coating or plating finish. Therefore, those parts such as automotive shells, box covers, or other devices covers will be made with ABS.
- PC, regarding PC, normally it’s the transparent PC, including the black and the white. This material has good strength and toughness. Car lamps or lens will be made with this material, and other products needing light translucent also will choose PC, for example, light pipes, box covers needing lights to go inside as well as the automotive lens. Most of the PC parts will be made to vapor polish to be clear or just sanding smooth.
- ABS+PC, this is the combination of ABS and PC material. This material has the advantages of ABS and PC, and most of the covers will choose this material, such as the VR, cash box, batteries shells and so on. This material is also easy to do painting, coating or plating.
- Acrylic, this material is much more expensive than ABS or PC. It will have good looking after polish, and be as clear as the glass, but it’s very fragile. However, because of its beautiful appearance, the automotive lens and light guides will use this material when there are car shows to get a better result. And it will also need to be very careful when machining this material, because it will be easy to get crack when shocked on the surface.
Above are the common plastic materials that we are using when machining plastic parts via CNC. Other plastics are also widely used, such as POM and nylon, and we also have these materials if you need.
Metal Materials Machining
As for metal machining, we have a lot of metal materials to meet your requirements, such as aluminum, magnesium, metal, zinc, brass, stainless steel, etc.
- Aluminum, this is the most common one among the metal materials. It is lightweight and easy to be machined. Therefore, the aerospace seats or machine accessories will use aluminum to make. Regarding aluminum, different products and technologies will use different models and the most common aluminum is Al6061-T6. It is cheap, and the same with Al 6082, while the better one is Al7075; for sheet metal, we normally use Al5052. All these metal parts can do finish such as baking paint, sandblasting, anodizing and so on.
- Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. There are numerous grades of stainless steel with varying chromium and molybdenum contents to suit the environment the alloy must endure. Thus stainless steels are used where the strength of steel and corrosion resistance are required. We have SS303/304, SS4130, 17-4ph and so on. They can also do the post finishing process like aluminum.
- Other metal materials such as magnesium or zinc are widely used on important devices such as military guns, telescope, drones or UAVs. These materials are more expensive, thus the cost to make parts in this material is higher, but the performance is better.
As regard to the technologies to machine these metal parts, we have CNC machines, CNC lathing, sheet metal bending, laser cutting or EDM machine. This EDM machine is to process those details unable to machine by these CNC machines, for example, the undercuts.
Low-volume Vacuum Casting
As one of the employees in the rapid prototyping industry, I think this low-volume vacuum casting service is the most useful technology until now. It provides a great opportunity for those companies only needing small quantities when they have expo or activities to show their products to some potential clients or markets. Low-volume vacuum casting is one of the most amazing rapid CNC prototyping China technologies, and many clients are looking for them to build their prototypes at low cost. This technology uses a silicone mold to build small volume products in good quality and fast way.
For this vacuum casting method, normally we will make a master first via CNC machining. For this master, we don’t have to machine by 5 axis machine, which will be expensive if only making 1 unit and requiring no splitting parts. After finishing the master, we will use this master to duplicate a silicone mold, and inject the urethane resin into the mold by vacuum injection, and then cool to the final part. The casting parts will have some burrs needing to be removed. In this case, if a high-quality surface is required, we can do a post finishing on the surface again; if not, then just keeping the casting surface.
In conclusion, WayKen has a lot of rapid CNC prototyping services in China to meet all your requirements toward concept designs, innovative ideas or market test samples. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of our project managers for a quote to make your prototypes.