A beginner’s guide to CNC Machining and how they can very quickly provide a return on investment.
July 31, 2019
Computer Numerical Control machining is a relatively new type of machining that utilizes automation and computer controls to allow for much more precise machining than has previously been attainable when using an automated process. CNC machines are much more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but they have proven themselves to be stellar investments, rapidly earning their owners a return on their money.
How it Works
A CNC machine can be pretty much any type of industrial manufacturing machine – a lathe, a welder, a sheet metal stamper, it doesn’t really matter. What makes a CNC manufacturing special is the presence of an onboard computer that controls the movements of the machine. In the case of industrial machines, these computers will generally take the form of an onboard controller. However, hobbyist machines can be attached to a PC or laptop, which can act as a CNC.
CNC machines are able to move through several axes, enabling them to manipulate pieces much more precisely than conventional machines allow for. However, the level of precision depends very much on the specific machine in question with older machines being less capable than newer ones. Some modern CNC machines utilize robot arms that are able to move through multiple axes.
Also, while the best CNC machines will enable some very precise manufacturing – these are known as Swiss CNC machines – most CNC machines are chosen for their automation benefits than for their ability to tackle ultra-precise work. Manufacturers who don’t buy their own CNC machines outright are increasingly seeking out CNC machining services from other manufacturers who do have access to the machines.
Take Rapid Direct as an example. Their website shows the full range of CNC machining services that they offer to customers. China’s economy is largely built on its massive manufacturing capacity, so it’s hardly surprising to see CNC machining china taking off. Rapid Direct operates China’s largest manufacturing networks for CNC manufacturing and is able to provide CNC manufacturing, CNC milling services, CNC prototyping, CNC turning services, and many more.
Because CNC machining is automated, there is no need for constant human oversight. This enables manufacturers to significantly reduce their overheads by reducing the need to pay people to perform quality control monitoring. With high-quality CNC machines, manufacturers can rely on them to complete even complex routines quickly and without issue.
Businesses that can’t afford to buy their own high-end CNC equipment can still significantly reduce their manufacturing costs by engaging the services of manufacturers who are able to offer online CNC services. Not only is CNC machining often a cheaper process, but it is also a safer process as you don’t need to worry about humans being on the assembly line. Furthermore, machines will work very long hours without making many complaints, they don’t need to take breaks as people do. This means that automated CNC machining can continue even when everyone has gone home.
After automation, the next big advantage of CNC machining over traditional methods is that CNC machining enables easy replication. Not only are CNC processes automated and don’t require any human intervention, but they also enable for easy replication – producing the exact same thing over and over again.
While there are lots of manufacturers who can replicate the same object over and over, different processes will have different tolerances and error rates. A high-end CNC machine will reliably reproduce the same object over and over again with no perceptible variations between them, this is vital for the most precisely machined products.
Indeed, we live in an age of modular components and replaceable parts. Technologies like 3D printing and CNC machining are enabling us to produce precisely crafted interchangeable parts. A spare part for a car or bike, for example, is no good unless it can be relied upon to fit in place every single time on every single vehicle of that model.
Just as a skilled human can learn to machine any part, no matter how precise, if they are willing to learn how, we can program CNC machines to perform specific and precise routines. This means that a routine can be changed a little bit in order to correct a small issue, or completely rewritten to produce an entirely new product – it depends entirely on the item in question.
All that is needed for a CNC machine to produce a new product is for the programming to be slightly adjusted. This is much easier than equipping a machine with a completely new part, or even bringing in new equipment entirely for the sake of slight design alterations.
CNC machining has opened the door to cheaper and more reliable machining for businesses of all sizes. Businesses who aren’t yet able to invest in their own CNC machines can still avail themselves of the benefits by hiring CNC machining services online.