Developing Environmentally Sustainable CNC Machining Solution

Environmental sustainability isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions CNC machining, but Macfab has made environmental responsibility a key component in our business philosophy.  As we see it, doing what we can to promote sustainable manufacturing makes sense for us and our customers.

Our operations are tightly integrated.  We use the principles of Kanban to provide a seamless service to our customers.  Lean manufacturing helps keep our costs down.  And sustainable machining benefits both us and our customers.

Planning for Sustainable Manufacturing

Designs can be worked on digitally by their designers in conjunction with our engineers.  Aside from the mountains of paper and travel that saves, it also allows us to influence designs with an eye toward efficient use of raw stock.

Minimizing waste begins before materials are even purchased.  Our engineers can also recommend material options that are available locally, avoiding shipping.  If machining is going to be too wasteful, they can look at the possibilities of cutting nested parts out of the raw stock or using castings to avoid waste.  Our CRM software allows us to manage inventory for many of our customers and can control stock levels automatically to avoid both outages and leftover components after a product is dropped.

Sustainable Machining on the Shop Floor

CNC machining is fundamentally greener than old-school metal working.  Gone are the giant motors spending half their energy running Rube Goldberg mazes of gears and worm drives.  Modern CNC machines have digital stepper motors tuned to the requirements of their specific jobs.  Properly tooled, they run more efficiently than operators, as well.

Some CNC machines are capable of running completely unattended, or what’s called “Lights Out”.  If a Swiss turning machine can be left to produce parts overnight, it can use electricity at off-peak hours, when there’s little if any energy being put into maintaining a comfortable environment in the shop.

It’s the nature of precision CNC machine shops that we have to be fastidious about our surroundings.  Chips and swarf can’t be allowed to collect.  Macfab has a robust recycling program for shop cuttings of all materials.  We are also heavily invested in coolant systems for the various machines.  Along with keeping parts and bits cool, those fluids wash away cuttings from the milling area.  We use environmentally friendly coolant fluids.  We have also recently purchased a filtration and management system that allows us to remove the contaminants for recycling and use the coolant for far longer.

At Macfab we see sustainable manufacturing as a win-win.  We save time and money by minimizing waste.  Our customers save money as a result.  We also know our customers appreciate working with companies that keep an eye on sustainability -it’s good for their bottom line and it’s something investors look for, as well.  We all live in this environment.  We all have very real motivations for keeping our communities clean and healthy.  At Macfab, we try to incorporate that into everything we do.


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