What is CNC Machining?

Over the years, technology has evolved in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing used to consist of workers in assembly lines repeating the same step over and over. Now, many parts of manufacturing are performed by Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining. CNC machining is a process where pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery.

With CNC machining, computers can control various complex machines with extreme precision, and 3D cuts can be performed perfectly with a single set of prompts. Examples of machinery that can be controlled by CNC machining include mills, lathes, routers, plasma cutters, etc. Machine shops using this process, including Aero Machine, can increase their productivity significantly and improve the quality of their equipment. Because of this, the popularity and usage of CNC machines has grown quickly.

How does CNC machining work?

First, software is programmed and coded with the specific cuts required by the machine. The code, sometimes referred to as G-code, dictates the functions of the machine such as coordination, speed, and feed rate. The tools and machines will then follow the steps in the coded program, like a robot. If the machine is programmed accurately with the correct code, the machine will follow the steps as directed. Therefore, complex cuts can be incorporated with precision within minutes using a CNC machine.

Because of these capabilities, this process has been implemented in many manufacturing areas. CNC programming is also saved in a computer’s memory which increases the efficiency of the process. The systems aren’t static either, so they are able to change as required and newer prompts are able to be added to existing programs by a simple adjustment to the code.

What are some of the machines that use CNC systems?

Many of the machines used today are electronic, meaning CNC machining can be applied to most of them. Various materials have different properties, so machinists and engineers are required to alter different variables like feed rate, tool selection, RPM, and more.

Some common machines that use CNC are:

  • Mills – Mills are machines that can run on programs using number and letter prompts. These prompts are used to move the machines accurately, sometimes in different directions at the same time. Mills use a 3D system that functions on a three-axis system (X, Y, and Z). New mills can add more axes which increases the efficiency of the program.
  • Lathes – Using CNC machining, the cuts performed by lathes are circular and perform with high precision and velocity. Because of CNC, lathes can produce far more complicated designs than if it was produced manually. Most CNC lathes consist of two axes while more complex designs can have 3 axes.
  • Routers – A CNC router is used to cut materials such as wood, steel, aluminum, and plastic. CNC routers increase productivity and reduce waste. Like other CNC machines, CNC routers are very effective at crafting materials with high precision. Some examples of when CNC routers are utilized are woodworking, creating prototypes within the engineering field, and producing pieces of art.
  • Plasma Cutters – These machines use a hot plasma torch to cut the metal and other hard surfaces. To produce the speed and heat necessary to cut metal, plasma is generated through compressed-air gas and electrical arcs. The process of using the heat and speed necessary to cut pieces of metal is very dangerous, now that these machines can be controlled with CNC, it has provided a significant increase in safety.

A manufacturing evolution

CNC machining has provided an advanced technological solution in the manufacturing industry. The usage of this system has been and continues to be implemented in many machine shops. Because of CNC machining, the efficiency of work produced and safety in the workplace have increased significantly.

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