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Why Care About CNC Macining in Your Hand Pump?

Machining the threads on the lower end of the Simple Pump's riser tube.

Machining the pump head

What is CNC Machining?

A machine tool shapes or cuts metal, plastic or other materials in a number of ways, including cutting, boring and grinding. Machine tools have been around for centuries.

In the 1980s, computer numerical control (CNC) machines combined computers with some other inventions to revolutionize many industries. A design could be created using CAD (computer aided design) software, and then, using those electronic instructions, a computer could control the machine tools to create an object EXACTLY as specified… and the same every time.

Once a design is perfected, each copy created from it is identical. This has important implications in efficiency, weight, minimizing friction and other critical functional parameters.

Drilling ports in a Simple Pump well cap.

Manufacturing our own well caps

What Cars Were Like Before CNC Machining — And After

If you were around to close cars doors back in 1980 or earlier, you know that meant (by today’s standards) slamming it. Then, one auto company after another adopted CNC machining for fabrication. After CNC, dramatically less force was required to close a car door. In the middle of this transition, some new car doors closed quite easily, while others remained tough to close. Did you ever say, or have said to you, “No, no; there’s no need to SLAM it!”

Engine and transmission parts also came to be made by computer directed machinery. The result — cars became far more reliable, lasted many more miles, and generated more horsepower from smaller engines.

Lighter And Stronger is Important For Hand Pumps, Too

Cutting stainless steel parts from billets — essentially steel bricks — is only practical using CNC machining. Fabricating this way makes for much stronger stainless steel than casting (pouring of molten metal). This is why the Simple Pump’s stainless steel design can be smaller but stronger then competing models.

Extraordinary Precision

The Simple Pump pistons are CNC-machined food-grade PVC. They move up and down in a stainless steel cylinder that cannot be manufactured any closer to perfect. It has no visually detectable seam. The piston is moved by featherweight lift rods, that are fiberglass rather than steel.

There is so little friction between the piston and the stainless steel cylinder, and the pump handle is so light, that the resting position of the pump handle is up. The piston floats down the cylinder that easily.

So Little Friction and Weight — So Little Wear

Cars doors that needed to be slammed closed were a sign of older manufacturing methods, and shorter useful lives of the car. The same is true today for larger, heavier and harder-to-operate hand pumps.

CNC machining is not a gimmick. It is a sophisticated and well-known technology that, for over two decades, has been part of most of the innovative products you know about. As in other manufacturing, CNC machining offers powerful advantages in a hand pump.