Learn about AIP’s precision machining capabilities for mission-critical components.

 

High-performance precision plastics require high-performance precision CNC machining.  CNC machines, or computer numerically controlled machines, are electro-mechanical devices that use tools at varying axes (usually 3-5) to produce a physical part from a computer design file.

 

Our modern society runs on CNC machined plastic components – from everyday household piping to critical spinal implants.  The breadth of materials, shapes and industries served is endless.

At AIP, we precision machine parts for industries such as the aerospace & defense, medical & life sciences and power & energy.  Each part that is CNC machined comes with design specifications and dimensional tolerances.  Our machinists are capable of crafting parts at .002 mm tolerance, which can make a whole lot of a difference in the performance of a mission-critical part.

 

Let’s back up a moment though.  What are dimensional tolerances? And how do you know if your project should demand a tighter tolerance?  Read on in this month’s blog to find out.

 

Let’s Talk About Tolerance

 

What are machining tolerances?

In CNC machining terms, tolerance, or dimensional accuracy, is the amount of deviation in a specific dimension of a part caused by the manufacturing process.  No machine can perfectly match specified dimensions.  The designer provides these specifications to the machinists based on the form, fit and function of a part.

 

How are tolerances measured?   

CNC machines are precise and measured in thousandths of an inch, referred to as “thou” among machinists.  Any system is usually expressed as “+/-”; this means that a CNC machine with a tolerance of +/- .02 mm can either deviate an extra .02 mm from the standard value or less .02 mm by the standard value.

 

 

Why are tolerances critical?

Tolerances keep the integrity and functionality of the machined part.  If the component is manufactured outside of the defined dimensions, it is unusable, since the crucial features are not fulfilling the intent of the design.

 

How close can a tolerance get?

Tolerance depends on the material that you use and the desired purpose of the design.  In plastics machining, the tolerances can be from +/- 0.10 mm to +/- 0.002 mm.  Tighter tolerances should only be used when it is necessary to meet the design criteria for the part.

 

When .002 mm Matters

 

What is the .002 mm difference?  In many industries, such as the medical industry, it is crucial to machine parts with extreme precision so that they can interact with human tissue or other medical devices.  In fact, when it comes to manufacturing medical applications, subtractive manufacturing (CNC machining) provides tighter tolerances than additive manufacturing (3-D printing).

 

 


(AIP PEEK Eye Implant)
 

Tight tolerances like the .002 mm are important because plastics are machined to interact with other parts.  In particular, CNC milled or turned plastics are unique designs for limited quantities, such as custom-made brackets and fasteners, or components for prototyping purposes.

 

One of the most critical considerations when applying tolerances is to take into account fits. This refers to how shafts will fit into bushings or bearings, motors into pilot holes, and so on. Depending on the application, the part may require a clearance fit to allow for thermal expansion, a sliding fit for better positioning, or an interference fit for holding capability.

 

As with anything that is precision machined, tighter tolerances demand time and skill.  Make sure to work with a certified company like AIP that has the infrastructure and expertise to complete your project with unmatched precision and unrivaled experience.

 

Let our team go to work for you

 

With 36+ years of experience in the industry, our dedicated craftsmen and ties to leading plastic manufacturers allow us to provide you with unrivaled knowledge and consulting in material selection, sizing, manufacturing techniques and beyond to best meet your project needs.

 

AIP offers a unique combination of CNC machining, raw material distribution, and consultancy as a reliable source for engineering information for materials such as PEEK, TORLON, ULTEM and more.

 

We are AS 9100D compliant; certified and registered with ISO 13485 and ISO 9001 and standards in our commitment to machining quality custom plastic components for specialized industrial sectors. Quality assurance is included as an integral part of our process and is addressed at every step of your project, from concept to completion.

 

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PART SUMMARY:

 

PEEK (PolyEtherEtherKetone) is a lightweight highly chemical resistant thermoplastic popular in the Aerospace & Defense and Medical & Life Sciences Industries.  From implants to custom medical devices or machined lightweight aircraft components, PEEK is ideal for a variety of specialized applications.

 

MATERIAL PROPERTIES:

 

PEEK is considered a semi-crystalline, high-performance thermoplastic. This gives it enough elasticity to be precision machined to various custom designs, with strong mechanical properties that provide resistance to fatigue and stress-cracking, as well as a good structure for bearing, wear and structural applications.

 

Key properties of PEEK include:

  • Handling at temperatures up to 480°F (250°C)
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Chemical Resistance
  • High Ductility
  • High Elongation
  • Hydrolysis Resistance
  • Low Outgassing

 

What can this polymer do?

 

Due to its elasticity and resistance to chemicals, abrasion and hydrolysis, PEEK is a highly sought-after thermoplastic for both industrial-grade and medical-grade applications.

 

Common uses include:

  • Aerospace Weight Reduction Components
  • Dental Implants
  • Food and Beverage Automated Manufacturing Equipment
  • Food and Beverage Filling
  • Medical Implants
  • Medical Instruments
  • Metal Replacement
  • Processing Equipment
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment
  • Vacuum Chamber Applications

 

So, what can this polymer do?  Let’s take a closer look at how it is applied in the Aerospace & Defense and Medical & Life Sciences industries:

 

AEROSPACE & DEFENSE

 

In 1978, ICI invented PEEK, a member Of the PAEK (polyaryletherketone) family of thermoplastic polymers.  It quickly gained recognition in the aerospace and defense industry for its weight-saving capabilities over metal alloys.  For example, Airbus used PEEK for a primary structural component in the door of the A350 XWB to improve quality and reduce weight and costs by 40 percent.  Over the next 15 years, industry professionals forecast that 41,000 new and replacement planes will be required.  Officials and engineers in the aerospace industry are looking for alternative high-performance thermoplastics like PEEK to meet this material demand.

 

Read more on PEEK’s impact in the aerospace and defense industry in our downloadable booklet below

 

As demand for stream-lined, innovative materials grows, we continue to serve and precision machine complex polymers for the aerospace and defense industries. For over three decades, we have provided flight control, fuel system, interior, engine and aerodynamic-related PEEK components for various aircraft OEM and MRO providers worldwide.

 

MEDICAL & LIFE SCIENCES

 

PEEK gained traction in the medical industry 20 years after the aerospace industry adopted it. In the late 1990s, Invibio Biomaterial Solutions commercialized a bio-compatible grade of PEEK (PEEK-OPTIMA). Ever since then, demand for medical grade PEEK devices has skyrocketed. From surgical instruments to spinal fusion implants, PEEK has a wide range of applications that only continues to expand in the medical industry.

 

Peek Neurosurgical Case Study

 

One such example of PEEK’s versatility is in neurosurgery for stroke and traumatic brain injuries.  Dr. Rohit Khanna partnered with AIP Precision Machining engineers to create a device that would expand without another operation, yet hold the “bone flap” and the rest of the skull together.

 

Problem

Dr. Rohit Khanna wanted to develop a device that would relieve swelling in the skull for patients undergoing brain surgery, which can lead to complications or even death.

 

Solution

The polymer of choice?  PEEK.  AIP’s engineers machined a medical component that was flexible, strong and sensitive enough to fulfill the necessary requirements for this critical medical part.  PEEK was also the best choice for this medical application because it was the most ductile and biocompatible.

 

medical tool built with peek polymer
 

Resolution

Currently, the FDA is processing the PEEK surgical piece for clearance to conduct clinical trials.  If it is approved to move forward, it can make leaps and bounds in reducing the need for multiple brain surgeries, saving more lives.

 

Get the full case study on PEEK

 

What can this polymer do?

From concept to completion, our team of engineers will work with you to realize the final product.  With some of the fastest lead times in the industry, our unrivaled technical experts we can tackle your polymer challenges.

 

What Can This Polymer Do? Supportive Information

PEEK VARIANTS

 

Download our “What Can This Polymer Do?” booklet.

We’ve put together our premier PEEK applications in a condensed booklet you can take with you.

Learn here.

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Where Does This Part Go?

PPS Wheel Bushing | AIP Precision Machining

 

If you’ve been to a popular Florida amusement park, then it’s possible you’ve encountered the latest part starring in our “Where Does This Part Go?” series.

Find out why this part really makes a “splash” in the section below…

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