5 Challenges Machining Aerospace Parts & Components: Solutions

Picture of Dennis Delgado

Dennis Delgado

Chief Product Officer
Picture of Dennis Delgado

Dennis Delgado

Chief Product Officer
5 challenges machining aerospace parts


The issues that stem from production of different aerospace parts can have serious consequences and often wreak havoc. In short, the aerospace components and parts have to work flawlessly each time. Whether it’s gear or bracket, each component has to turn and fit in its place without unexpected issues.  

When it comes to the manufacturing process, the use of the right materials and tools can make all the difference. Today, aerospace components manufacturing have to have tight tolerances with precision fits. In fact, there is no room for quality when it comes to modern-day aerospace components.

After all, high-quality ties together with the lead time and overall cost. It is no wonder CNC machining has become integral to a wide range of aerospace applications. One of the perks of automated CNC machining is that it minimizes potential human errors and ensures high-precision manufacturing.

What Components You Can Manufacture through CNC Machining

From modern planes to engines to landing gear, manufacturers use CNC machining to create aerospace parts. Manufacturers also use CNC machining to manufacture structural and moving parts like the bulkhead, airframe, fuselage, shafts, and gears. But whether it’s torque links, braces, turbines, or compressors – there is a long list of components you can produce through CNC machining.

Common Challenges (and Solutions) in Aerospace Parts Machining

Let’s take a look at five different challenges producers often face during the production of aerospace components machining along with their solutions:

Getting the “Right” Material

In the aerospace industry, it takes continuous effort to attain and retain the most suitable material properties. Engineers often struggle to get particular material properties right to create specific aerospace applications. In the heating treating process alone, manufacturers face mountainous challenges.

The solution is to invest in tools crafted with harder materials such as titanium and heat treatment prior to machining. It is the best way to mitigate such issues and ensure an optimized heat-treating process. On the other hand, engineers often have to deal with sourcing the “right” materials. From super alloys to specialized plastics, focus on the material that takes less time and costs to manufacture the part.

Size of the Component

One of the limitations of CNC machining aerospace parts comes down to the component size. Technically size of a component is a geometric challenge. Typically, large aircraft require extensive assemblies of hundreds and thousands of parts.

Since machine beds are just a few feet in length, it creates additional space issues for structural components. This makes it difficult to find a suitable supplier that can support sizable parts.  You can address this issue by finding a supplier that deals with large size parts and operates huge CNC machines.

Machining of Large Components in Thin Walls

Oftentimes, components like compressor housings or engines have extensive internal cavities. It leads to a time-consuming process that creates endless scrap material. Not to mention, it creates residual stress on the component. Ultimately, this stress can mutate into warping or deformation, which, in turn, create more issues when you have to deal with tight tolerance.

You can use a combination of formulas to determine whether or not removing a good chunk of material can turn into an issue. The solution lies in checking the External Removed Material Ratio or ERMR as well as the Internal Removed Material Ratio or IRMR. Both formulas will help you make the right call about the material. 


Resolving Complex Geometries

Since 3d printing aerospace parts manufacturing has unique needs, they often come with complex geometries. The trick is to minimize weight and maximize strength at the same time. The objective of engineers should be to promote more airflow on the component’s surface.

On the other hand, the geometric complexity of 3d printing aerospace components can be over the top. With more complexity, it will take more time to find a suitable supplier and increase the machining time. The best course of action is to simplify the entire design of the component at each stage. But complex geometry is usually unavoidable when it comes to aerospace applications and this is where the use of a 5-axis machine becomes an ideal solution.

Focusing on Suitable Sourcing Manufacturers

Like sourcing, the right materials, finding the most reliable manufacturing partner can be challenging. In the quest to meet special aerospace requirements, suppliers and manufacturers need AS9100 certification. This certification revolves around ISO 90001 that ensures quality control and safety management of produced components.

Despite a high competitive drive, not all manufacturers are equal in the aerospace industry. Your focus should be to opt for a digital manufacturing entity that can meet complex aerospace industry requirements and meet your high manufacturing standards. You can pool out your manufacturing and supply partners that have relevant aerospace certification and extensive experience.

Transformative Manufacturing Capacity

Gone are the days of conventional and old school designing and manufacturing practices. Today, players like SyncFab are transforming the manufacturing capacity within the aerospace and defense industry. Unlike iPhones that are sold in millions, aircraft are produced in low quantities. 

In terms of “low-quantity” manufacturing, CNC machining shines through. If you want to be part of the aerospace industry, you’re bound to face one of these challenges. Fortunately, engineers from other industries also experience similar problems and apply the same solutions.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to advanced aerospace engineering, SyncFab is unlocking increased innovation through its supply chain initiatives. SyncFab believes that it is never too late to optimize the process to manufacture custom aerospace and defense components.

When it comes to machining large aerospace parts, the sale of CNC machined aerospace components is at an all-time high and SyncFab continues to be at the forefront. In the aerospace sector, SyncFab has become a leader in CNC machining. Contact us and get a free quote right now!

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