Both the defense industry and other government agencies have a constant need for the development of special pieces and types of equipment. In many cases these can only be created through the use of specialized machines that are capable of producing precision parts and tools. For this reason the machining industry is still alive and well.
In fact, due to a number of recent events more and more of the machining for defense and government sources is being brought back home to the USA.
Machining in the Aerospace & Defense Sectors:
One of the most interesting developments in both of these areas has been a re-evaluation of having far-flung supply chains and actually machining and manufacturing parts in many different overseas locations. Chinese labor rates actually have gone up quite considerably over the past few years. This has made it much less profitable and economically feasible to continue machining, especially for the aerospace industry, which is closely connected to the defense industry.
The rise of new precision machining processes has also created more of a demand for bringing this type of work back home. These are much less labor intensive. Now, you will find that one of the hottest new areas for conducting this type of precision work is the US Southeast.
Defense Industry Needs Machining:
The military and defense industry is always on the lookout for developing and building new technology. After all, the enemies always seem to be changing and developing themselves, so the need to stay ahead is paramount. This often creates the need for new types of specialized defense parts and equipment. In many cases, the defense industry must actually develop new partners upon whom they can rely for everything from enhanced product development to subassemblies with extremely tight tolerances and large production runs.
The machining industry is also a fascinating business. Often a company or tooling manufacturer is contracted in order to create or build new parts or whole pieces of equipment that have never been done before. This type of innovation is an incredible challenge. It will demand that resources be put to the test and in many cases, new tools, machines, and parts will need to be created in order to make everything work the way the defense industry or government has specified.
Machining New Types of Technologies:
The government is certainly looking to the machining industry in an effort to develop their desired new toys and technologies. One of these is a new type of jet fighter, helicopter, drone and quad-copter that is faster, quieter, and yet safer than what we have in the field currently. This will require manufacturers to look into new types of machine parts and tools. So will the continued development of non-lethal weapons for the battlefield.
The government and defense industry is also very interested in developing equipment and items that can help to lighten the load that a soldier must carry. This will entail a rethinking of just about everything from weapons and ammunition to batteries and communication devices.
One thing is for sure despite all of these changes and developments. Machining for defense and government is clearly here to stay. Whether the new era tools are developed using multi-axis bar machines, big bore manual or CNC lathes, or even 3-5 axis VMC (Vertical Machining Centers), this will be the future of our defense industries’ toys.
Harold McMillian is a technology expert specializing in the machining industry and offers many years of experience working closely with CNC and VMC machines.