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Metal processing process is roughly divided into three categories, namely metal forming, metal cutting and metal connection. In this article, we will focus on the latest technologies applied to metal cutting.

Cutting refers to the process of removing material to a specified form by using various tools. The finished parts should meet the requirements in dimension, technology, design and aesthetics. There are only two products of cutting -- scrap and finished product. After the metal has been cut, the scrap is called metal chip.

Cutting technology can be further divided into three categories:

- Chip generation is divided into one category, also known as processing.

- Classifying materials as burning, oxidizing, or evaporating.

- A mixture of the two, or other processes, such as chemical cutting.

Drilling holes into metal parts is the most common example of the first type of process. Using a cutting torch to cut a steel plate into small pieces is an example of a burning type. Chemical grinding is an example of a special process that uses etching chemicals to remove excess material.

Cutting technology

There are many techniques for cutting metals, such as:

- Manual techniques: such as sawing, gouging, cutting.

- Mechanical technology: such as stamping, grinding and milling.

- Welding/combustion technologies: e.g. by laser, oxygen-fuel combustion and plasma combustion.

- Erosion technology: machining using water jet, discharge or abrasive flow.

Chemical technology: photochemical processing or etching.

Several metalworking techniques

It is impossible to cover all of these technologies in one article. We'll select six of them and explain what they are, their respective relevant tools, and possible use cases.

Metal marking

Direct part marking is a series of permanent marking techniques on metal for part traceability, industrial part labeling, decoration, or any other purpose. Marking on metal has been around since humans started using metal tools such as axes and spears, and metal marking is as old as the invention of smelting technology. However, current technology has advanced to the point where it allows humans to create highly accurate and complex marks for any product imaginable. Marking can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including engraving, embossing, die casting, stamping, etching and grinding.

Metal sculpture

Engraving is a technique used primarily to engrave patterns, words, drawings, or codes on a metal surface to obtain a product with a permanent mark, or to print an engraving on paper using the engraved metal. Engraving mainly uses laser and mechanical engraving two technical means. Although laser technology has become very versatile and easy to use, it provides us with the highest quality metal engraving process because it is computer-aided and can be precisely predetermined on a variety of surfaces to achieve the best engraving results. Mechanical engraving can be done manually or with more reliable scaling or CNC machines.

Metal engraving technology can be used for: personalized jewelry, art, optical polymer laser imaging, industrial marking technology, sports trophy carving, printing plate making, etc.

Metal stamping

Metal stamping is not a subtraction process. It uses a mold to fold a sheet of metal into various shapes. Household appliances such as saucepans, spoons, cooking POTS and plates are all made by stamping. Punches were also used to make ceiling materials, medical equipment, machine parts and even coins. Its products are widely used in medical, electronic, electrical, automotive, military, HVAC, pharmaceutical, commercial and machinery manufacturing and other industries.

Metal stamping machine tools are mechanical and hydraulic two kinds. Stainless steel, aluminum, zinc and copper sheets are typically cast, punched and cut into three-dimensional objects by these machines. Because they are relatively easy to process, they have very high product turnover. Punches can be arranged in series to process metal materials, using different steps to convert them into finished parts and separate them from the process line.

Presses are widely used and can produce a wide variety of products. These products come in different sizes and designs, and most are used for industrial purposes. Usually, you can just send the sample and sheet metal to a metal stamping company and get the product you want.

Metal etching

Etching can be achieved by photochemical or laser processes. Laser etching is a popular technology nowadays. The technology has grown exponentially over time. It refers to high precision etching by using coherent amplification beams on metal surfaces.

Laser is the cleanest method of etching marks, as it does not involve the use of corrosive agents, or intensive noise drilling or grinding processes. It simply follows the instructions of a computer program that uses a laser beam to vaporize material to make an exact image or text. Thanks to advances in technology that have made them smaller and smaller, researchers or hobbyists can now buy new and cheaper laser devices.

Chemical etching

Chemical etching is the process of exposing a portion of a sheet metal to a strong acid (or caustic) to cut patterns on it and create design shapes in grooves (or cuts) in the metal. It is essentially a subtraction process that uses etching agent chemistry to produce complex, high-precision metal parts. In basic metal etching, the metal surface is covered with a special coating that is resistant to acid, parts of the coating are scraped off by hand or mechanically, and the metal is then placed in a bath of strong acid reagents. The acid erodes the metal parts that are not covered by the coating, leaving the same pattern as the coating scraping, and finally the piece is removed and cleaned.

lithography

Photolithography is the photographic process of an acid - resistant layer on a metal surface. A major difference between this method and the motorized or manual scraping techniques used before chemical etching is that the applied acid-resistant layer is also irradiated to produce a photoresist layer (photoresist), a process that helps to produce highly accurate and reproducible patterns.

There are a variety of machines in this field. They include fiber laser, CO2 and uv machines.

Metal grinding

Grinding is the physical grinding of a workpiece using a cutting tool (abrasive), usually used to trim rough edges, deburr, polish welds, remove chips, produce sharp edges, or create a unique finished look for metal parts. Typically, grinding is the last operation after a part has been carved, punched, etched, or any other form of metalworking.

The following are the six main types of grinders and their different types of applications.

- Belt grinder: The abrasive coated electric belt is mainly used to process the metal surface to obtain the desired finish.

- Grinder: this is a very inexpensive hand tool, mainly using a table top fastened electric grinding wheel, rotating to grind agricultural tools, small metal parts, etc.

- Cylindrical grinder: This type of grinder operates primarily on cylinders, cams or a combination of the two. It consists of a rotating grinding wheel and a feed system that feeds the workpiece into the grinder. Some models of cylindrical grinders use a built-in cooling system to keep the workpiece as close to room temperature as possible for the best grinding results.

- Surface grinder: This is the most commonly used type of grinder. Surface grinding is primarily a finishing operation. Grinding machines polish metal surfaces by rotating grinding wheels to give them a more refined appearance or desirable functional surface.

- Bit grinder: This type of grinder is mainly used for grinding various types of bit.

- Coordinate grinder: This type of grinder is used for finishing fixtures and dies. Their main function is drilling bushing and pin grinding. They can also be used to complete complex surface grinding that is not completed on a milling machine. These grinders enable us to produce bits with high accuracy and complex geometry.

As can be seen from the above grinder examples, grinders can be used in many fields, including the manufacture of engine blocks, aviation, Marine and automotive parts, as well as moulds for other metal processing.

Metal milling

Milling is the process of cutting material from a metal surface to form a final shape. A milling machine comprises a milling cutter that rotates on a spindle and a table that can move in multiple directions relative to the working face. As the table moves along the X and Y axes, the spindle usually moves vertically, milling complex shapes as planned. The milling machine can be operated manually or automatically by a numerical control (CNC) system. Can perform a variety of complex operations, including grooving, cutting, drilling, thread milling, edge milling, etc.

Two common types of milling machines are: horizontal milling machine and vertical milling machine. Milling is the main processing technology to manufacture engine cylinder block, gear parts, threads and other parts. They are mainly used for milling flat surfaces, but can also process irregular surfaces. They can also be used to manufacture drills, boring heads, hobbing teeth and grooves

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