Since the industrial revolution in the mid 18th century, the manufacturing industry has become a vital part of every country’s economy. From ship building to the production of advanced electronics, manufacturing encompasses a diverse range of specific tasks and can create millions of components and finished products for consumer and business use.
As the manufacturing industry has become more sophisticated, it has relied more on a wide range of different processes. Today, the use of robotics and computers is driving some of these key processes, however, some core activities still rely on methods that have been used for several decades.
In this article, four distinct types of manufacturing processes are explored in detail. They include a mix of older production methods and some of the latest processes that have only become widespread in recent years.
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The casting process has taken place in manufacturing for thousands of years. In fact, the first evidence of casting dates back to 3200 BC after archaeologists found a copper frog that had been made using a casting process. Typically, casting involves the heating of a solid material to extremely high temperatures so that it changes into a liquid state. Metal is commonly used in this process and is then poured into a mold or cast where it will then cool and resolidify, taking the shape of the cast.
There are a wide range of specific types of casting and you can read more about them here. Today, casting is a frequently used industrial process in a wide range of manufacturing sectors from automobile production, construction, and the aerospace industry to farming and mining.
Welding is the process of using high temperatures to heat a material and cause it to melt before joining two or more pieces of material together via fusion. Often, metal is used to weld components together as it creates a strong and resilient joining point. However, today, the use of other welding materials such as plastics is becoming increasingly commonplace. In some circumstances, a process air heater will be utilized to achieve a suitable and consistent temperature for the melting of various materials to enable welding to take place
The process of welding dates back to the 19th century when it was used by blacksmiths using a process of arc welding. Today, welding can be achieved with a variety of different methods including the use of laser beams and even ultrasound technology.
3. 3D Printing
3D Printing is a recent type of technology and its full range of uses within industry are still being explored and understood. A computer design will be created of the component or item that needs to be constructed (often by using CAD software). This design is then sent to the 3D printer which constructs the object by building layers of material onto each other.
Types of plastic and resins are often used in 3D printing, however, recent advances in this technology have allowed the use of some types of metal to be 3D printed. This has led to the jewelry industry increasingly utilizing 3D printing processes in the design and production of pieces of intricate rings, chains and other precious metal items. A key benefit of this manufacturing process in the creation of jewelry is that it allows highly customized designs to be created along with extremely intricate finishing.
4. Laser Engraving
A final key manufacturing process is laser engraving. This is commonly used to mark components in the automobile industry and there are a range of different laser engraving machines that can achieve this.
Engraving is a precision manufacturing process which benefits from the latest technology to allow minute but legible engraving tasks to be completed to a high standard of accuracy and consistency. Some laser engravers don’t generate high levels of heat which makes them suitable for engraving tasks where the material shouldn’t be heated or deformed during the process.