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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Machining Processes - Methods and Trends [Engineering Reading]

Amongst the things I enjoyed most in Mechanical Engineering was learning about the various machining processes, i.e, the metal-cutting operation. When going for industrial visits, watching a huge workpiece, often weighing a tonne or so, being machined with apparent ease on massive Machining Centers, as the cutting tool worked its way through the raw workpiece, engulfed in a flood of coolant, was a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, sight.

For all of the best designs out there, it is the machining process that finally gives shape to the idea, without which it will remain just that, an idea conceived by a team of enterprising Design Engineers. Also, failure to adhere to stated machining standards & tolerances as required in the product can result in the best of the designed products being rejected as scrap - on occasions extremely expensive scrap, a fact, many on the shop floor would attest to. This no way takes away anything from the design department, whose role in the product development is just as critical.
In fact, in order to ensure that ideas conceived at the design phase can actually be executed at the production phase, participation of the production department is often sought right at the conceptual stage of the product, so that their inputs can be incorporated right from the onset of the programme, thereby preventing costly, time-consuming re-design & thus reducing the time to market of a product.
The branch of Engineering called Concurrent Engineering, in fact, deals with such a method of product development. Here, participation of each and every department associated with the product is sought at the conceptual stage itself - departments like manufacturing, procurement, finance, marketing, testing, maintenance/service etc. The designers, therefore, are able to take into account the inputs & limiting conditions set by the other departments while designing the product from the very onset. This co-ordinated collaboration & co-operation across departments of a company is achieved by leveraging the use of a host of enabling technologies, especially CAD-CAM solutions & rapid prototyping methods [the name 3-D printing has acquired greater acceptability now-a-days, I feel].
Okay, I digressed. Coming back to to the original topic of this post, I just stumbled upon this neatly written book titled "Latest Trends in Machining". From the book & the author's blog, I gathered that he was associated wit the Hindustan Motors Company & headed its Production & Manufacturing Engineering & also Corporate Project planning. This, I believe, makes him eminently qualified to author a book on this topic.
Was able to quickly glance through the book, promising my self to read it in detail in some time. It has nicely detailed chapters about various machining operations, their classifications & cutting parameters. Alignment of some of the diagrams have been disturbed though.
Read the Annexure in full though, detailing the machining operations followed to manufacture the 5Cs of an I.C engine - Cylinder block, Cylinder head, Crankshaft, Camshaft, and Connecting Rod. Learnt something new - fascinating.
A good accompaniment to the HMT authored Machine Tools books in addition to the standard Hajra Choudhary books on Workshop Technology, I feel.
He has also written quite extensively about various aspects of Automotive Manufacturing
  • History of Automobile and its Manufacturing
  • Trends in Engine Components' Machining
  • An Overview of Gear Manufacturing Process
  • Sheet Metal Stamping in Automotive Industry
  • Body Welding - Can it be flexible?
  • Painting Makes the Difference
  • Vehicle Assembly and Testing
These can be read here: