milling machine

The Ben Machine Difference in Aerospace

Ben Machine is a full-service aerospace CNC machine shop, where you’ll find well over a hundred 3, 4, and 5-axis CNC machines, including lathes with live tooling. We have a battery of coordinate measuring machines to monitor the precision of our work. We have extensive welding, assembly, and finishing facilities. The Ben Machine difference is how we use all that equipment. The difference is in our goals, our standards, and most importantly, in our people. Ben Machine was created to be an aerospace CNC machine shop. We never intended to be a widget factory. From the earliest days, we have brought in the best engineering experts and operators.

We don’t just CNC machine aerospace parts. With our customer’s engineers, we help design their parts to be efficient for production. That means minimizing the number of setup changes in the CNC mills and lathes. Those setups cost time and money. We also look to optimize the machining itself. How can we minimize tool reach to maintain rigidity? Which tool and what parameters will produce the required surface finish reliably? What kind of tooling do we need to use on a particular material? There are hundreds of questions that must be considered so we can produce the part as quickly as possible, with as little waste as possible, and with the fewest discrepancies.

We know there can be hundreds of lives or billions of dollars riding on our parts working right every single time. If you’re involved in aerospace CNC machining, you’d better keep that idea front and center. That’s why we maintain equipment sufficient to measure up to 100% of a production run without causing bottlenecks.

A Case Study - The Canadarm and Ben Machine

The remote arm that served on every shuttle flight, and which now walks around the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) is one of the most wildly successful projects in the history of space exploration. The Canadarm has gone through four iterations since the early 1980s, and Ben Machine is proud of the work we’ve contributed along the way. The arm which was originally designed to lift payloads in and out of the shuttle bay has grown in size, been given extra joints for improved flexibility, seen its weight limits increase, and eventually been equipped to crawl around the frame of the ISS. That’s not bad for a robot that cycles through 200 degree C temperature changes every 90 minutes.

satellite in space
airplane cabin

A Case Study - The Dreamliner 787 and Airbus A350

The 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 both represent tremendous advancements in commercial aviation, but these advancements didn’t happen overnight. They were the result of more than ten years of critical development involving thousands of engineers and tradespeople. Suppliers like Ben Machine were relied upon to assist in this development phase, making iteration after iteration of component until an efficient, cost-effective and cutting-edge product was achieved. Ben Machine is proud to have helped manufacture and assist with design of prototypes and control elements necessary to fly both aircraft.

The Role Ben Machine Plays in the Aerospace Industry

At this level, we concentrate on everything preceding and surrounding production. It’s about design, and testing, and analysis, and ultimately it’s about repeating those steps until a product is as close to perfect as humanly possible. Ben Machine’s manufacturing experts are the ideal resource for aerospace engineers who need real world input to go along with their theoretical models. Ben Machine has invaluable experience with alloys, tooling, heat issues during CNC machining, and what Ray Bradbury called “the art of the possible.” CNC machining aerospace parts for fifty years has provided us with a body of knowledge second to none. Our operators specialize in thin wall milling. Our welders specialize in thin wall welding. Aerospace is one arena where weight is always a factor, so we’ve learned our lessons well. Our experts can look at a design and right away see where hold-downs need to be included. They can tell if a casting wall is designed as thin as possible to save on materials and machining time. Our procurement is hard to beat, too, which means our customers have fewer problems with materials or casting issues.
man in factory

Simply because of the way we work, prototyping is part and parcel of our operation. We see the value of empirical testing to ensure we’re not overlooking some problem. Iterative prototyping can allow our customers to perfect their design faster and cheaper than any other method. CNC machining aerospace prototypes is also invaluable as it enables testing a component to destruction to gain information on Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), Mean Downtime (MDT), and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR).

Ben Machine never stops learning and looking for ways to improve what we do. Whether that’s maintaining AS9100 certification, new skills training, new equipment, better software, or something else that catches our attention, that’s what we’re going to do. We know how much is riding on our work with every launch and test flight. We know by the time the product is rolling out for real, it may be too late for unforeseen problems. After all, it’s impossible to fix something that’s a billion miles away from earth. So our job is to make sure it doesn’t break, and Ben Machine is up for that challenge.

Certifications & Associations

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