So why are we using CNC machines?
As we step further away from the 20th century we find ourselves looking for easier, simpler and generally more economical ways of manufacturing. Pretty much everything you use in your daily life has been manufactured. And chances are that those things have been made using machining and typically this is CNC machining.
CNC machines have rapidly overtaken traditional machining in the manufacturing industry. Just as computers have been introduced into everyday items, from washing machines to smart TVs, from medical devices to even the light bulbs in your home, computers have aided in the manufacture of items.
CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. This amazing technology was introduced to reduce the effort and speed up production processes. The end result of this is the manufacturing of the highest quality products.
In many ways CNC machining and traditional forms of machining are similar. But the major difference lies in their approach, labor-intensive vs 90% automation.
Automation during the machining process allows industries to utilize parts with tolerances as tight as 0.0004 inches. Something which is next to impossible to achieve using conventional machining. This has helped industries such as healthcare, aerospace and consumer electronics such as smartphones. Take a look at our guide to precision machining for a better understanding.
Of course, precision is not the only thing which sets CNC machining apart. Listed below are 7 reasons that CNC machining is simply the best.
1. No Prototypes Necessary
A prototype is a proof of concept. It is needed to show the design in full, tangible dimensions and to map their feasibility. Before the advent of CNC, manufacturers would have to create actionable prototypes. This would then be followed by running various tests on them. All this before work could start on the actual machining process. This would typically take days, weeks and even months of back and forth.
When CNC machines came in to use they also ushered in software programming, allowing the engineer to create a visual, 3D design and ‘test’ its use in realistic scenarios. Now manufacturers can skip this prototype step and by doing so, reduce times, save money and produce a better product.
2. CNC Machines Reduce labor costs
In traditional machining, every single machine has to have a user who is a dedicated technician, someone with the experience, skill and full knowledge of the machine being used. In the case of CNC machining, this is controlled by a software program thereby requiring very little human interaction with the machine, in fact, the only real intervention required by the machine is the initial setup, loading the blank and feeding in the data.
Due to this minimal intervention, machining with CNC requires very little advanced training, this means that the same operator can set up another machine whilst the current one is working away, further reducing labor costs, which are passed on to the client.
3. Part Replication is now 100 times better
Because the machine is being controlled by a dedicated, sophisticated computer program there are far fewer errors. The precision with which the tools are controlled with perfect positioning and speed means that the CNC machine can produce thousands of identical parts in the shortest possible time. Something which is impossible to achieve with traditional machining.
The machine can be programmed to apply the same tooling. All to the highest quality and finish over and over. And the best part is, without compromising on the quality of the finished part.
Traditional machining requires a highly skilled operator to manually set the tooling at every step of the process, costing time and increasing labor costs, and because this is a manual process, human error can lead to variations between the finished piece.
4. Larger Quantities and Higher Quality machining
Typically, traditional machining is only utilized for low volume projects. CNC machines are made to be used for maximum accuracy, speed and next to no operator intervention, this means that the rapid, precise production of parts becomes a low cost, viable operation, whether that is a few parts or in the thousands.
Another benefit is the high resistance to wear and tear of CNC machines, the high-quality constituent parts plus the addition of cooling systems and even the automated removal of chips via a conveyor belt means that the machines can run 24 hours per day with minimal maintenance. Also because the machine runs off a software program it can be kept updated regularly, increasing the lifetime of the machine and making it adept at producing even more complex parts.
5. Ability to Machine Complex Parts
As mentioned earlier, CNC machines can be reprogrammed and updated at any time. Giving the machine shop the ability and the liberty to produce 3D, 4D or even 5D parts. And with absolute accuracy and ease of production.
This ability allows the machine shop to shift between regular and super-complex part production whenever it is required. Additionally, being able to store and recall designs in the software means the production of any desired part is even quicker.
6. Works for Every Material Type
Traditional machining has been somewhat limited to the types of material being machined, changing between brass, copper, aluminum, steel or titanium has a time-consuming process. With a CNC machine, the machine shop is able to utilize the same machine for almost any type of material, not only the ones mentioned earlier but even wood, foam, and sensitive plastics.
7. CNC Machines meet specifications
CNC machining, by its very nature, is designed for perfect precision, the machines are programmed to maintain the exact specifications of the design as specified by the client and programmed into them by the operator. Every step of the machining process is monitored automatically to maintain the highest tolerances and meet the exact specifications.
In the 27 years, we have been established we have dedicated to assisting customers in the metals industry. Our high-quality CNC machines together with our dedicated, experienced team have taken precision machining to the highest levels of CNC machining.