CNC machining is causing a massive shift in manufacturing.
What is CNC? Why is it so attractive for manufacturers?
This overview of CNC machining explains what CNC is, what the advantages are, factors involved in making the transition to CNC, and who can benefit. You’ll have the information you need to understand this important change in the manufacturing sector.
What Is CNC?
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process that uses written computer code to control the movements of factory tools and machinery.
CNC machining is a subtractive method of fabrication. It removes material during production.
The process begins with a computer-aided design (CAD) model. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software prepares the model for the machining process. The CAM software checks the model for errors and then creates a CNC program to produce the part.
Advantages of CNC Machining
CNC machining has a variety of advantages over traditional manual machining for manufacturers. Here are 5 important benefits.
Traditional machining requires an operator for each machine (mill, lathe, grinder, etc.). CNC machining requires fewer operators. One person can run several machines at the same time because computer software controls the machinery. In addition, CNC machine operators require less training and skill than manual machine operators.
- Increased efficiency
CNC machines are extremely accurate, with some machines having only a 0.3 micron deviation in repeatability. This level of accuracy significantly reduces the waste of raw materials during the manufacturing process.
Most CNC machines have internal systems that detect any problems in the production process. The machine will either fix the issue internally or shut down to prevent further problems. CNC machines produce fewer faulty components, which further reduces waste.
- Consistent quality
CNC machines eliminate almost all human error, so their outputs are very consistent. The process to produce a particular item can be repeated exactly the same way over and over. The client gets a uniform product every time.
- Increased productivity
The automated machining process is faster than manual machining. CNC machinery can work continuously without a break, so the rate of production increases even more.
The operators of CNC machines are at a distance from the sharp tools. The machines are fully automated and work behind a guard or a safety door. If a hazardous safety issue occurs, like a jam or other machining error, it is not a safety issue for the operator.
Transitioning to CNC Machining
Many manufacturers are switching their production from manual machining to CNC. The transition can pose challenges, but the advantages generally win out.
CNC machines are more expensive than manual ones and require a larger initial investment. Cost savings in the manufacturing process help to offset the expense over the long term. There are also used CNC machines for sale, which can help reduce the up-front cost.
CNC machining requires software engineers and mechanical engineers instead of manual machine operators. Education and training are changing to meet this need.
Who Can Benefit From CNC Machining?
CNC provides a large advantage in industries that need accurate, consistent, and complex parts. CNC machining improves efficiency and is ideal for producing large quantities. It is safer than manual machining.
Almost all manufacturing applications benefit from CNC machining, which is why CNC continues to revolutionize the industry.