Riveting in Sheet Metal using Computer Numerical Control(what is deburring April)

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Sheet metal fabrication utilizing rivets as fasteners is a common industrial process that connects multiple parts together into a final assembled product. Riveting has traditionally been a manual process requiring skilled technicians, but the integration of computer numerical control (CNC) machines has automated much of this work. CNC automation increases precision, reduces variability, and boosts productivity compared to manual riveting.
Understanding CNC Riveting Machines
Modern CNC riveting machines utilize advanced software and precision mechanics to automate the entire riveting process. Key components of CNC riveters include:
- Robotic Arm - Uses servo motors and precision controls to accurately maneuver the riveting head to each programmed hole location.
- Rivet Feeder - Automatically feeds rivets into the riveting head from a bulk supply hopper via vibratory bowl, belt, or rail feeders.
- Tool Changer - Automatically swaps rivet tooling sizes and types to match required rivet profiles.
- Drill/Mill Head - Can pre-drill holes or prep the material prior to riveting when required.
- Custom Fixtures - Secure and precisely locate sheet metal components for accurate hole alignment.
- Controller - Uses CAD-based programming to direct the sequential actions of the machine based on the required rivet pattern.
The coordination of all these elements by the controller enables automated high-speed riveting that can be tailored to each unique application.
Programming and Operating CNC Riveting
Generating the program instructions that direct a CNC riveting machine begins with the digital CAD model and drawings. The critical information from these design files includes:
- Rivet hole locations
- Rivet diameters and grip lengths
- Product material type and thickness
- Fixturing details
This data is used to determine the proper riveting tooling and sequence of operations. Holes are virtually mapped to the machine coordinate system to guide the machine actions. The program is simulated to validate the motions and imported to the CNC control software.
During production, the operator loads component parts into fixtures, links the correct program, and initiates the cycle. The machine follows the programmed path, inserting each rivet precisely based on the hole pattern geometry. Multiple tool changes automatically occur as necessary. The system tracks production counts and data for quality and process monitoring.
Benefits of Automated Riveting
Transitioning from manual to automated CNC riveting provides sheet metal fabricators several advantages:
- Throughput - CNC machines rivet much faster than human operators. A 4-5x increase in productivity is typical.
- Accuracy - Programmed rivet patterns are followed precisely, avoiding human positional variances.
- Repeatability - Rivets are inserted consistently in the same sequence, improving quality.
- Flexibility - Quick changeover between rivet sizes, styles, and patterns is software-driven.
- Ergonomics - Eliminates repetitive-motion injuries associated with manual riveting.
- Data Collection - Detailed production data aids process refinement and traceability.
- Skilled Labor - Dependence on skilled rivet technicians is reduced.
The productivity and quality gains make CNC automation a worthwile investment for most mid to high production riveting requirements.
Common CNC Riveting Applications
CNC riveting excels in fabricating sheet metal components across many industries:
Aerospace - Aircraft fuselages, wings, and other structures riveted from aluminum sheets.
Appliances - Doors, panels, and frames riveted in high volumes like on washing machines.
Automotive - Truck cabs, trailers, and off-road vehicle bodies assembled via CNC riveting.
Electronics - Enclosures, racks, and chassis for computers, medical devices, etc.
HVAC - Air handlers, ducts, vents, and other components require millions of rivets.
Increased adoption of lean manufacturing principles focused on waste reduction is also driving more companies to evaluate CNC riveting alternatives. The lights-out automation and data-driven process control align well with lean goals.
As CNC machines have become faster, more accurate, and less expensive in recent years, even small parts fabricators now utilize automated riveting for improved quality and cost control. The technology has proven itself as a reliable means for precision sheet metal joining. CNC Milling