CNC machining is well known for being versatile when it comes to fabricating just about any part in every walks of life. Aside from big industries like aerospace and automotive, machined parts can also be seen in ordinary things we use everyday. These include kitchen utensils, electronic gadget enclosures, custom-made decorations and of course, fitness equipment.
Without further ado, let’s get to the main gist of this article. We’ll go through the process of machining fitness rigs, the difficulties with machining these, and the advantages of machined gym equipment.
CNC Machining Case Preview: Fitness Equipment
1. Establishing Requirements
In any machining project, it is vital that the initial requirements are set so that the client’s expectations are clear. Hence, to be able to successfully produce machined equipment, we’d have to define the requirements needed to produce viable parts.
These sets of equipment should possess an overall impressive strength, durability, and reliability. In addition, the assembly and design for these should also be taken into account because these types of equipment are made to be modular where they should be easily assembled and dismantled.
Here at Wayken rapid manufacturing, we try to meet both ends of product manufacturability and customer requirements. We give out solutions for our clients so that their requirements cohere with the factors affecting manufacturability. We ensure our clients the successful delivery of their parts through efficient machining and fabrication processes.
2. CNC Machining Preparations
For a smooth cutting operation, the following factors should be considered: raw materials, cutting tools, CNC program, and other necessary toolings.
Bearing in mind the application of fitness rigs, the chosen raw materials should be capable of withstanding possible repetitive impact and bending force. The potential materials for this application are heat-treated stainless steel, aluminum alloys, cast iron, titanium, and high-strength engineering plastic.
To make the cutting action efficient, cutting tools should also be carefully thought of, combined with a wisely plotted CNC program.
3. Machining Process: Material Cutting Operations
The common parts/ features machined for exercise equipment are the handlebars, positioning holes for the frames, and other custom-designed components.
To give a brief overview of how these are machined, here are the common machining processes used:
Outer Diameter turning:
This process is usually done on the round bar handles of the dumbbells and barbells to get these into final sizes with the desired surface finish.
Grooves are added to round bar handles to add position holding markers for the weights. These grooves can be placed on the face, internal, and external diameter.
This is the process of cutting round bars into desired lengths.
This is a special turning process wherein a patterned impression is left on the surface of the round bars. This is important for fitness equipment to aid in the grip of the users.
Drilling repetitive holes is one of the key processes when fabricating fitness equipment. These holes are critical to its overall application because they serve as a positioning guide for adjusting heights and weights.
Milling is very useful in machining custom shapes and profiles on exercise equipment which includes machining specialized geometries and even logos into the weights used. Different milling processes can be done (e.g., face milling, profile milling, contour milling, etc.).
4. Post Machining processes
Like any machined part, post-machining processes are done to:
- Weld parts together.
- Bend sheets to their final shapes.
- Further, enhance and protect their outer surface. Some secondary operations commonly applied for fitness equipment are superfinishing, anodizing, painting, powder coating, and rubber coating.
The relevant quality measures being prioritized for fitness equipment are positional tolerance, surface finish, and structural integrity. These quality measures are stringently measured because of their significant impact on the equipment’s overall assembly, appearance, usability, durability, and reliability.
- These quality measures are often measured through different gauges like:
- Micrometers, calipers, and Coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) for dimensions.
- Profilometers for surface finish.
- Non-destructive testing methods like magnetic particle inspections for overall structural integrity.
Advantages of CNC Machining
One of the main features of CNC machining is that you can customize any part according to your liking as long as your toolings are capable of producing it. You can freely deviate from the “boring” designs you are used to seeing.
In addition, machined parts add a twinge of elegance to fitness rigs because of their aesthetically pleasing finish and impressive cuts.
CNC machining is programmable and automated which is a contributory factor for increasing the efficiency of production and maintaining the quality of fabricated products.
Nothing beats CNC machined parts when it comes to accuracy and precision. In fact, these parts can have a dimensional accuracy of up to .0005” or more depending on the machining operation used.
Availability of Materials:
One great advantage with machining is the freedom to choose from a wide array of high-strength and practical materials depending on the application of your parts.
The cost-effectiveness of this process can actually be realized through fast, efficient, and consistent mass production.
As mentioned previously, CNC machined parts can also go through a series of post processes. Combining CNC machining and other fabrication methods makes parts highly customizable and workable.
What Can Make Machining Difficult for Fitness And Exercise Equipment Parts?
There are certain factors that may hinder a smooth production of any part through machining, and you should be looking out for these:
Sometimes, the use of improper tooling may result in unaccounted losses and damages to both your machine and the parts being cut. Ensure the availability of high-quality cutting tools and specialized toolings for any application.
Design for Manufacturability:
This is one of the most important things anyone should study before jumping into fabrication.
Certain constraints should be made known to help manage expectations and avoid manufacturing failures.