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CNC Machining

Apr 08,20

CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders. The CNC in CNC Machining stands for Computer Numerical Control.

How Does CNC Work?
On the surface, it may looks like a normal PC controls the machines, but the computer's unique software and control console are what really sets the system apart for use in CNC machining.

Under CNC Machining, machine tools function through numerical control. A computer program is customized for an object and the machines are programmed with CNC machining language (called G-code) that essentially controls all features like feed rate, coordination, location and speeds. With CNC machining, the computer can control exact positioning and velocity. CNC machining is used in manufacturing both metal and plastic parts.

Computer numerical control (CNC) is the automation of machine tools by means of computers executing pre-programmed sequences of machine control commands.[1] This is in contrast to machines that are manually controlled by hand wheels or levers, or mechanically automated by cams alone.

In modern CNC systems, the design of a mechanical part and its manufacturing program is highly automated. The part's mechanical dimensions are defined using computer-aided design (CAD) software, and then translated into manufacturing directives by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The resulting directives are transformed (by "post processor" software) into the specific commands necessary for a particular machine to produce the component, and then loaded into the CNC machine.

Since any particular component might require the use of a number of different tools – drills, saws, etc. – modern machines often combine multiple tools into a single "cell". In other installations, a number of different machines are used with an external controller and human or robotic operators that move the component from machine to machine. In either case, the series of steps needed to produce any part is highly automated and produces a part that closely matches the original CAD.

First a CAD drawing is created (either 2D or 3D), and then a code is created that the CNC machine will understand. The program is loaded and finally an operator runs a test of the program to ensure there are no problems. This trial run is referred to as "cutting air" and it is an important step because any mistake with speed and tool position could result in a scraped part or a damaged machine.

Advantages and disadvantages of CNC
There are many advantages to using CNC Machining. The process is more precise than manual machining, and can be repeated in exactly the same manner over and over again. Because of the precision possible with CNC Machining, this process can produce complex shapes that would be almost impossible to achieve with manual machining. CNC Machining is used in the production of many complex three-dimensional shapes. It is because of these qualities that CNC Machining is used in jobs that need a high level of precision or very repetitive tasks.

Disadvantage is CNC machines are more expensive than manually operated machines, although costs are slowly coming down.