Factory machines come in all different shapes and sizes, from specialized equipment such as CNC machines to standard sand blasters.
Factory machines or manufacturing equipment comes in dozens and dozens of different types. There are machines for pressing, folding, shaping, melting, cutting, machining, drilling, milling, shearing, twisting, tubing, and bending metal and polymer materials – and honestly, those processes only scratch the surface.
Factory equipment is used to produce automobile parts, other machinery, building materials, wiring, and much, much more. Certain types of equipment are designed to work with glass, while others are built for plastic, rubber, steel, titanium, ceramics, or stone.
Manufacturing Processes and Factory Machines
While there are dozens and dozens of different machines specialized for specific purposes, there are a few basic manufacturing processes that can be generalized when discussing manufacturing equipment. These include:
Lathes and Mills
Lathing and milling are two of the most essential and fundamental factory machines you will find in any given workshop. Turning a work part into the shape you need it for your machine is critical, and the consistently most efficient way of creating a sturdy, single-piece tool or piece is via milling or lathing.
Machine mills and lathes are the mechanical chisels of the world of metal sculpting. These turn steel and aluminum ingots into precise machine parts by cutting the excess material away via precision blades and cutting liquid, producing swarf (chips) in the process.
The main difference is that a lathe involves rotating the workpiece around a stationary blade. In contrast, a mill presses the stationary workpiece into a rotating blade.
Bores and Drills
Aside from cutting shapes out of solid pieces, another critical manufacturing process is drilling, or boring.
The drill makes the hole – the bore makes the hole bigger. Both are essential processes for modifying workpieces to fit together and create factory machines.
Pressing and Bending
What happens when you have a solid sheet and need an angled sheet? You bend it. But there’s more to bending sheet metal than simple 90-degree angles. These machines are also designed to shape and create tubes, form tube ends, press metal into all shapes, cut via pressing, shear metal apart, and more.
Pressing and bending processes are among the simplest in the industry – but there is still much room for improvement. A manual bender or press will not have nearly the same strength or precision as a CNC hydraulic press or a micrometer-accurate CNC bender.
Cutting processes are crucial in manufacturing, and there is a massive range of different cutting techniques in any industry or factory. You can cut with lasers, plasma, waterjets, saws, or shearing forces.
Plasma cutters are more expensive than a hand lever cutter, but each has their applications in machining parts and creating different workpieces.
CNC (computerized numerical control) machining is a generalized term used for any equipment process that relies on computerized information to produce workpieces automatically. This is typically done by feeding CAD (computer-aided design) files into a machine’s proprietary program, which executes the processes necessary to turn the workpiece into whatever the design draft envisions. Most automated manufacturing processes rely heavily on carefully crafted and tested CADs and CNC machines.
Grinders are an important set of factory machines for surface finishing and polishing, as well as working a workpiece down to its final dimensions. Even grinders can be fed computerized information to perfectly grind a spherical or cylindrical workpiece, for example.
Sandblasters involve compressed air and highly abrasive material to scrape off the rust, rough up a finished or polished surface, or remove a layer of material non-chemically (such as acrylic paint, chrome, or zinc).
Powder Coating Systems
Powder coating is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to other coating solutions when producing factory machines. Powder coating can be performed both automatically and manually, but these systems are complex and expensive.
Powder coating involves using a charged electromagnetic arc to apply the polyester-based pigmented powder onto a metal surface. The workpiece is baked in a curing oven, with temperatures depending on the powder used and the size and material of the piece.
The Role of Robotics in Future Equipment
From hobby shops to industrial-level workshops, the use of robotics in manufacturing and factory machines has exploded due to the greater availability of basic robotics and simplified programming tools, from rigorous API documentation to better software engineering. Companies will need to continue to update their inventory to keep up with competitors and provide better manufacturing at a faster rate.
When To Choose Leasing Over Purchasing
When choosing equipment for your business, another factor to consider aside from form and function is cost. Should you invest in new equipment for your company to last an entire generation, or are you better off leasing equipment in a manufacturing process that requires frequent updating and staying ahead of the curve?
Because new technology demands a faster turnover rate, companies in the manufacturing scene often rely on equipment leasing as the best way to continuously update their machinery and keep ahead of the curve. Equipment leases allow your business to rent critical machinery at a lower cost versus outright purchasing and reselling equipment or paying it off over the years.
For factory machines that don’t need to be swapped out every few years, companies can purchase long-term leases and even negotiate leases that give the option of a buy-out for the remainder of the equipment’s value at the end of the term. Leasing options are consistently among the most flexible financing options a manufacturing company can consider, leaving as much room in the budget for other investments and costs.
Finding the Right Financing Partner
Finding the right partner for equipment financing and leasing is as essential as finding the factory machines and equipment itself. Some vendors provide financing options via a third party or through themselves, while certain financiers specialize in equipment leasing or provide middleman services between companies and vendors.
Building history with a single financier or vendor can also help a manufacturing company receive better rates and leverage its transactional history for better future offers.
Whether you’re looking to purchase the equipment outright or lease new equipment for your manufacturing processes, don’t be afraid to shop around.