Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining has been around since the 1940s. These days, with the help of computer aid design (CAD), high-speed automation and advanced production capabilities, CNC machining is a fully-integrated manufacturing technology. Since its introduction nearly 80 years ago, CNC machining has become a critical part of technology development. Let’s look at the ways CNC machining has empowered the manufacturing industry since its inception.
Before the advent of CNC machining, mills, lathes, drills and routers were run by operators. They would read a drawing and determine the best way to create the necessary features on the parts. A complex part might need to be remounted and reoriented by hand, and engineers had to include orienting features to ensure these operations maintained critical dimensions. This could be time consuming for both design and manufacturing.
Now, 3D modeling CAD files are read directly by CNC machines and a computer can automatically plan machining operations. An engineering design can include dimensional dependencies to maintain critical dimensions. Furthermore, advanced automated CNCs have articulating tables and heads to reorient parts and tools without ever unmounting a part. Rather than manually controlling each step in the process, operators can simply program CNC machines to interpret CAD files.
As result of computer integration and automation, more complex components are made faster than ever.
In addition to making components faster, CNC machining has enabled greater precision and accuracy as well. Since parts are not remounted and operations are carried out by a high-precision machine, errors are less likely to occur. The accuracy of the first part is largely dependent on the accuracy of the CNC machine itself. The precision from part to part is largely dependent on how constantly each part is initially mounted in the machine.
Better accuracy and precision allow higher-quality components to be made with less waste.
CNCs also have advantages for scalability over traditional machining. Some machines can complete more than one operation at a time. And, they can run almost continuously, 24 hours a day.
Faster, more repeatable continuous operations mean greater quantities of parts can be made in a shorter period of time.
Turning Ideas Into Products
Probably the greatest impact CNC machining has had on manufacturing is its ability to take and idea and turn it into a product quickly. This has made CNC machining ideal for prototyping and testing early in the design process. Engineers and designers can come up with a new product concept, mock it up in CAD and have machined prototypes within days. This makes it possible to modify concepts or try alternatives with little risk, allowing them to fine tune a design before releasing it for production.
More prototyping contributes to the production of robust, well-tested and innovative designs throughout the manufacturing industry.
Interested in learning more about how a CNC machine can benefit your unique operation? Give us a call or contact us online to speak with the team at CNC Masters today!