What is CNC Machining? – Definition, Types, Advantages, and More

CNC Machining

The machining of parts is done with the help of computers capable of controlling the machinery. And with the emergence of CNC cutting machine , it is possible to automate this process thanks to the ease of control by a computer program with minimal human intervention.

Its use expands to assembly operations, inspection, work on metal sheets, among others. It can be applied to any field. CNC or numerical control machining is used more than anything in metal or aluminium machining processes such as drilling or milling.

Thanks to its automation capabilities, manufacturing proceeds at an accelerated rate and produces more accurate results.

Types of machines that work with CNC

Among the most common CNC machines are milling machines, grinding machines and lathes. Milling machines are automatic cutting machines capable of working even with metals. Lathes are automated tools that rotate on their axis to shape the material.

Meanwhile, using abrasive disks for machining by abrasion on metal or plastic. These machines are easy to program and used in CNC machining projects that do not need precision.

Numerical control machining technology contains information related to the position where the machine parts are to be placed. Currently, most of these tools are connected to a computer network where they receive all the instructions.

CNC Machining Applications

Thanks to the automation of CNC machining, its use extended to different industrial sectors such as wind power, aeronautics and even rail, where CNC milling machines mold landing gear and fuselage components.

Many industries turn to the CNC machining centre to combine different operations on the same machine. Of course, it must meet the needs of roughing, semi-finishing and part finishing operations using multiple heads with automatic change.

First, make a list of what’s most important. Without this foundation, you can spend all day working at top speed and still feel like you are falling behind if you haven’t worked on the right things.

Manage multiple construction projects will have different priorities, and tasks within those projects will also have different priorities. What is really important and what’s just a nice-to-have?  Identify that right away. Then, you can plan your time and your team’s time around the most critical tasks for a project.

The main advantages of CNC Machining

  • Improved automation compared to numerical control without a computer. It means that human intervention at each step can reduce or even eliminated.
  • However, manual action always takes place for specific tasks, such as repair and prototyping. That allows for higher production simultaneously, since CNC machines are capable of running 24 hours a day.
  • Greater precision and consistency of the pieces obtained. Today’s CNC machines have astonishing precision and repeatability specifications.
  • Two, ten, or a thousand identical workpieces are easily achievable once the program is verified. That was critical in mass production.
  • Greater flexibility, computer program controls machine tools, carrying out new machining that only contains a few small changes concerning a previous job only requires loading a saved project, making specific changes and saving it separately, as in any other software. It allows quick changes and adaptation to any part, and eliminate most prototypes.
  • More excellent safety, as there is minimal interaction of the operator with the machine in most movements.
  • Previously, when intervening in actions such as changing heads, loading material, stopping a movement, etc., there were more chances of having accidents.

Main challenges of CNC machining

High operating costs: Although CNC machines reduce the number of manual workers required in a manufacturing plant, they are more expensive to operate. However, the costs associated with running the machines are gradually decreasing.

Training need: initially, the generalization of CNC machining led to high unemployment, as the need for manual workers was reduced. However, with proper training, this system creates new specialized employment opportunities. It requires CNC machine tool operators, programmers, maintenance personnel, and machine tool manufacturing engineers and technicians and trainers to teach its operation.

How CNC Machining Works?

CNC machining allows doing practically everything previously done manually: placing the drill bit on the axis, activating it, placing the part machined in the machine, machining it and turning off the axis. Once the machine tool configures by CNC and put into operation, it requires little operator intervention. You can even automate the part loading process.

Movement control

Any CNC machining machine tool allows two or more movement directions to program (axes, which can be linear – along a straight line – or rotary – along a circular path). Common linear axis names are X, Y, and Z. Common rotary axis names are A, B, and C. The more axes the machine has, the more complicated it is. In drilling, the three linear axes would position the tool over the hole to machine in part on the X and Y axes and machine the hole with the third Z-axis.

Programmable accessories

Although all CNC machining machines’ fundamental function is to control movement according to axes, what gives value to each machine is not moving the part in two or more axes, but the programmable accessories that it carries. , which make them multiply their functions.

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