VP uses CNC Machining extensively in the production of parts for the bicycle industry.
VP operates over 600 individual CNC Machines in its locations in Taiwan, China, and Vietnam. In our 30+ year history CNC Machining was one of the first processes we undertook, so we have a deep experience in using these machines to produce bike parts. At VP, we operate 3, 4 and even 5 axis CNC mills, as well as specially built machines that help us manufacture to the high standards which we are known for. When called for, we can CNC Machine with an accuracy of +/- .01mm. VP proudly uses CNC Machines made by DMG Mori, Okuma, which are capable of self checking for QC to add another level of control to our process.
What is CNC Machining?
CNC Machining is a process that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Traditional machine tools that can be controlled by computers include lathes, mills, routers and grinders. Many modern machine tools can combine these functions into one machine. These types of machine tools remove material using different shaped tools and bits to form the desired part. Normally we think of material being removed from a solid block, but it is more common that we would CNC Machine pieces which are pre-formed either by Extrusion or Forging. CNC Machining can be used to manufacture both metal and plastic parts.
The “CNC” are initials for Computer Numerical Control which references the complex computer software that is used to control the machine tools. Inside the machine, there are many motors and moving parts which move the pieces being formed, and the tools and bits which cut away material. With CNC machining a computer controls these motors and in doing so controls the exact positioning of the part and the speed of the process in order to consistently produce high quality parts to very exact tolerances.
What can be made using this process?
CNC Machining is used in the production of complex three dimensional shapes that must be made to very exact dimensions out of materials that can impart durability like steel and aluminum or also very durable plastics. At VP, we CNC Machine the bodies of high-end pedals, hub shells, headsets, and other parts. We also CNC Machine axle bores and bearing seats to the exact dimensions required to create a long-lasting and smooth-turning part.
Here, you can see a robotic arm selecting a hub shell forging for further processing by CNC Machining. For mass-production it is normally a waste of resources and energy to CNC large blocks of materials, so we will pre-process hub shells by forging them into their basic shape first. Forging not only saves time and cost, but imparts strength as well.
Inside the CNC Machine the gray blank is quickly transformed into a shiny and beautiful front hub shell.
Finally, the robot arm places it back onto the tray and grabs another blank to be machined down. At the end of this process, we QC check the parts to make sure that they are being produced with tolerance, and once they pass this stage of control they go to the next step in processing.
As always at VP, our goal is to cut waste and to recycle and re-purpose where possible. All of our CNC Machines are designed to capture the excess material removed and bag this waste. The waste is then removed and staged for pick-up by local recycling centers.