Every year, people are becoming more eco-friendly in their daily lives. At home, we recycle, switch to less energy-intensive devices, and do our bit to reduce our carbon footprints. On an industrial scale, more research goes into green energy sources, such as water, wind, and sunlight, every year.
The renewable energy industry is doing its part to reduce our reliance on conventional energy sources. And to keep functioning effectively, it is making use of equipment like CNC machines.
CNC Machining in the Green Energy Industry
Computer-controlled machines provide an economical and consistent method of producing parts. As such, computer numerical control (CNC) machines are a staple technology of many industries. The automotive and aerospace industries have seen enormous booms thanks to the adoption of CNC technology. Now the green energy industry is starting to follow suit.
The main draw for CNC technology is automation. A CNC plasma machine can churn out dozens or hundreds of components in a single cycle by programming a simple set of controls. Moreover, the precision of computer cutting technology ensures that each piece will be accurate and reliable. There’s almost no level of complexity that these CNC machines can’t achieve, making them ideal for producing parts big and small.
Another benefit is that computer-controlled machinery can work around the clock. So long as there is an engineer to maintain the equipment and reload base materials, CNC machinery can operate at full tilt 24/7. This also makes it much more economical, as the output quickly outstrips the running and maintenance costs.
All told, CNC machine technology is a fast-growing and vital aspect of the green energy industry that should never be underestimated.
CNC Machines and Solar Power
While some people may assume the complexity of a solar panel is in the conversion filaments, the truth is much more obvious. A solar panel is far more than just the solar cells we see. There is an entire infrastructure of other parts around them that are all vital in gathering, converting, and transferring solar energy.
CNC plasma cutters are frequently employed in producing the physical structures of solar panels. The frames and posts must all be built according to exacting specifications. They must also be capable of holding exact positions and angles, allowing for the most effective coverage of solar radiation.
CNC machine technology allows it to work with a wide array of materials. The metals that make up a solar panel’s frame and the rubber and plastic coatings used to protect the wiring and fragile joints are all compatible with these machines. Building parts together in one simple production process helps reduce production times and costs.
Solar farms are enormous, requiring hundreds, if not thousands, of panels to effectively gather the energy we need. Human-controlled production cannot hope to compete with these demands. The precision necessary to output these parts en masse is only possible through computer-aided production equipment.
CNC Machines and Wind Power
The primary demand for wind power construction components is sturdiness. Wind turbines stand in some of the most atmospherically rough areas of the planet. They must handle exposure to the most powerful winds and water and turn without issue.
The materials used in building wind turbines are metal and carbon fiber, which provide great strength. However, producing these materials is a challenging feat, as the size of the components far outstrips what is possible to make accurately with human hands. This is where CNC machinery excels.
Computer-controlled production ensures accuracy in each wind turbine’s frame, shell, and propeller segment. Since the dimensions are on a much larger scale and require a blend of balance and rigidity, the consistency of CNC machining can meet the need. It is also significantly more economically viable to produce such large parts by machine than it is to do it by hand.
The production of the gears and motors required for gathering and transporting the power created must also meet stringent quality controls. Thanks to the size of a finished wind turbine, it is necessary to ensure that the internal machinery will function when activated. Routine maintenance and parts replacement are difficult to perform, so the parts must be as reliably made as possible before installation.
CNC Machines and Hydropower
Hydropower is the oldest form of green energy, having been around since at least the first Century AD. It stands to reason that we would eventually modernize this technology to integrate it into our current climate. We no longer rely on basic wooden water wheels. Instead, we have complex power factories that turn falling water into electricity.
The complexity of hydroelectric dams rivals wind farms, albeit for different reasons. Rather than working with reliable vertical structures, these dams are much smaller but no less fragile. CNC technology is important in building powerful gear shafts and frameworks capable of constantly withstanding thousands of pounds of water weight. These devices need to be made from materials that are as resistant to water as possible. Their constant exposure leaves them at risk of corrosion.
Since hydroelectric stations must almost always be manned, adequate safety measures need to be in place. Machine production is also responsible for erecting protective housings around these constantly moving parts. The casings protect the vital components inside from outside dangers such as blockages. They also protect the operators around them from potentially deadly accidents.
The machinery that helps process the water turbine energy must also be onsite, and every computer and device within a typical hydroelectric station must be built to withstand exposure to damp and erosive conditions. They must also be strong enough to withstand the power of the machinery itself. Consistency and an ability to work with strong base materials are common themes with CNC machining, and here it is no exception.
Designing and building eco-friendly energy sources is no easy task; however, it often requires components built in ways we cannot do by hand. Thankfully, CNC machines are slowly making these dreams of planet-friendly energy sources a reality.
People are growing more environmentally conscious in their everyday lives each year. We recycle, use energy-efficient technology at home, and take other steps to lessen our carbon footprints. To lessen our dependence on traditional energy sources, the renewable energy sector is contributing and is using tools like CNC machines to continue operating efficiently.