What Is CNC Machining?
With the rise of automation, the manufacturing industry has also gone from manual to computerized. Not only has such change made machinists’ lives easier, but it has helped manufacturers to become more efficient as well.
Whether you want to use CNC machining on your next project or to start a business in machining, you must understand what CNC machining is, including its cost, types, benefits, as well as all the processes involved.
CNC Machining Defined
Computer numerical control (CNC) machining uses pre-programmed computer software commands to perform manufacturing processes. It is the software’s job to control the movement of factory machinery and tools, from routers to mills, grinders, lathes, and other complex pieces of machinery.
As a result, you can achieve a perfect output even if the process involves complicated design and dimensional cutting tasks.
To distinguish CNC machining from manual machining, the former doesn’t need machinists to perform cutting or milling tasks, unlike with manual machining. The machinists only need to set up the CNC machines, then the computer components and machining tools will do the work. With CNC machining, the machinists will only be like an overseer who’ll only supervise the machining process.
The Cost Of CNC Machining
The cost of CNC machining may depend on several factors, like labor cost, tools, and machines.
When it comes to labor cost, the country or area you’re in will affect the wages of the operators. Regarding tool cost, on the one hand, you need to include every tool, even the non-standard ones. Then, you must also include the product’s process based on the tool life.
Most importantly, you need to calculate the cost of CNC machines, which includes electricity bill from operating the machines, length of the machined parts, depreciation cost, and the machine’s price.
For a more specific breakdown of CNC machining cost, you may check out this link: https://prototechasia.com/en/how-much-does-cnc-machining-cost.
Types Of CNC Machines
After getting an estimate of how much you’ll need for a CNC machining project or business, you also need to learn the types of CNC machines to be used. That way, you’ll know what machines and tools to invest in, which should primarily depend on the products you’ll produce.
Knowing each machine and its capacity can help you decide what’s more useful or not for your project or business. Instead of buying all types of machinery or merely following the recommendations of CNC machine sellers, you might want to learn about them personally before ordering or buying one.
Here are some of the types of CNC machines and their uses:
To reduce equipment failure and improve your production efficiency, you’ll need metrology machines. You can use these machines to inspect the precision and accuracy of other machines via advanced 3-D software.
These machines don’t need a higher level of precision, making them one of the easiest machines to program. Grinders mold materials into specific shapes by abrading or grating them through a spinning wheel.
Lathes Or CNC Turning Machines
For symmetrical objects like spheres, cones, and cylinders, you’ll use lathes. These machines shape and cut materials while they rapidly rotate on a spindle.
When you want to precisely cut materials, using milling machines can execute a specific angle of the cut direction and depth through rotary cutters.
Pick And Place Machines
If you need machines to help assemble resistors, capacitors, circuit boards, and other electronics, you may need some surface mount technology in the form of pick and place machines. With these machines, you can lift, move, and place the electronic components to a specific area using a number of small mechanical nozzles.
Laser And Plasma Cutters
If you want a superior hole-cutting machine, then plasma torches and laser beams are an imperative. You may need these machines when other cutting tools are insufficient. Moreover, with laser and plasma cutters, you can create almost any angle or shape as they’re agile and hot enough to burn materials that can’t be cut by other cutting tools.
Innovating 3-D replication, a 3-D printer allows you to copy a part using an extruder. Methodically, the hot plastic goes through a tiny hole until it forms the desired output.
For larger projects, you may need a CNC router that uses an X-,Y-, or Z-axis CNC machine. For more complex projects, you may need to use a 6-, 5-, or 4-axis CNC machine. A CNC router can cut sheet metal, plastic, wood, and other materials, decreasing mistakes and set-up times. If you want to increase efficiency, you’ll need one with a higher axis.
CNC Machining Applications
Because there are many types of CNC machines out there today, even small-scale manufacturing businesses, and not only companies in the machining industry, can use them. That’s why, if you’re planning on putting up a manufacturing business, CNC machining can become an integral part of your venture’s manufacturing process.
Here are some industries using CNC machining:
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) Industry
With CNC automation, the use of sparks, electrode, or thermal energy to cut out or mold titanium and other hard materials can already be possible. The EDM process discharges electric sparks 100,000 times a second, which allows the vaporization or melting of unwanted metallic materials during the machining process.
To avoid wasting too much money during the production and prototyping phase while conducting multiple trials, the optical industry now uses CNC machining. Instead of doing multiple trials to improve designs, the optical industry would only need to perform only one trial in production.
Intricate features of glass spectacle lenses are now achievable via the CNC machining process. As a result, precise grooves, steps, and angled bevels can be produced.
This specific industry needs impeccable precision as far as medical equipment and devices are concerned. With CNC machining, producing surgical implants, orthotic devices, and other medical instruments multiple times are now possible. Since CNC machining allows prototyping faster, the medical industry can market products in no time at all. Moreover, the medical industry also uses CNC equipment to record and produce documentation for FDA process approval and product tracking.
Automated reports and documentation are also vital in the firearms industry. Using CNC machine programs makes recording and tracking easier as all the information about each product can readily be available in databases. CNC machine programs also integrate engraving serial numbers, as well as sourcing details of materials and components and other vital information of each product in the databases.
Aside from that, through CNC machining, the industry can produce high-quality and precise firearms accessories and supplies.
CNC machining helps the electronics industry to keep up with the miniaturization trend. CNC machining has specialized tools and devices that could produce high volumes of small but powerful electronic components via micromachining and small-scale CNC machines.
Defense Partner Industry
CNC machining can also help defense partner industries comply with strict government safety codes and standards. Unlike the electronics industry, which only needs smaller components, the defense industry produces large products. CNC machining can assure intrinsic and quality parts as CNC machines have their own in-process measurements, thereby committing no errors.
Metal Removal Industry
From raw materials, CNC machines remove extra metals to produce the desired products. Metal removal industries can use CNC machining in making jewelry, aerospace, and automotive products.
How CNC Machining Works?
After deciding what CNC machines to use for your business or project, you must then understand how they work. In designing and creating products that you desire, you may follow these steps:
- First, you need to create a design for your CNC project via a computer-aided design (CAD) software. Using this software, you can create 2D and 3D CAD drawings.
- Next, convert the CAD drawings or designs into a G-code via computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The CAM software generates G-code from the parameters of the drawings. This code is essential in CNC machining as it contains all essential details to create the output. G-code includes the rotation speed, repetitive cycles, specific times, and certain angles of the tools you’ll use.
- Then, you’re now ready to set up the CNC machine, the materials, and the tools. Depending on the type of CNC machine you have, you can follow instructional manuals or videos attached to it. Afterwhich, load the design into the CNC machine’s computer. The raw material you’ll use is taped on the block that you’ll attach to the CNC machine.
- Lastly, execute the CNC machine operation so that the CNC program will do its work. All you need to do is wait for it to finish as it’ll automatically stop depending on the specification.
Reasons To Use CNC Machines
Not only are these machines easy to use, but you’ll also gain a lot of benefits when you apply CNC machining into your business. From production to quality, the cost to profits, your business will surely grow and keep up with the latest trends in your industry.
Here are some reasons why you should start using CNC machining, too:
Because CNC machining operates even via computer, you need not spend all day to complete a project. Instead, you can multitask after you’ve pressed that button that would execute the CNC programs. While waiting for the output, you can do other essential tasks. You can even use your CNC machines simultaneously to produce your desired outputs. Moreover, since productivity increases, you’ll meet your quota for each day, which means more sales.
Eliminates Human Error
As mentioned, big industries use CNC machining for their intrinsic projects. Since you can program the machines to perform specific cuts, angles, and molds, the CNC machines will comply with the instructions with utmost accuracy. As a result, you can achieve the specifications seamlessly, unlike in manual machining, wherein problems regarding precision are inevitable.
Decreases Material Waste
Another benefit of CNC machining is its inability to produce “waste”. Since you can create impeccable projects with CNC machines, you don’t have to waste another material to complete your project.
Aside from decreasing waste, you’ll also be able to save money. Because tons of raw materials are involved, you can employ CNC machines to keep you from wasting these materials. Without a CNC machine, you may have to use more than five raw materials just to produce one precise output. But, with a CNC machine, you can produce five flawless outputs from five raw materials. That way, you can reduce acquisition expenses while increasing your sales.
Another expense you can reduce by using CNC machines is that involving wages of employees. Unlike manual machining that requires more employees to meet your quota, CNC machines can produce more even when you’ve only got you and one or two employees. Since you’ll only need people to supervise the machining process, one person can oversee more than a couple of CNC machines.
Reduces Safety Risk
One of the reasons why people developed CNC machines is to reduce safety risks. Since your employees will only need to set up the CNC machines and tools, they can stay behind the glass while these machines operate. That way, if ever the CNC malfunctions or emits shards of metals, your employees will not be hit. Moreover, when you follow the safety guidelines of every CNC machine, you’ll know what and what not to do, saving you and your employees from any untoward incident.
Gives You An Edge
CNC machines can give you an edge over your competitors. Since CNC machining can help you with keeping up with the consumers’ needs, you can produce high-quality projects with less time needed. Especially when you’ve got a fantastic project in mind, CNC machining will give life to it with precision and in a faster manner.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you know what CNC machining is and how it works, you can now start building an empire. Well, that’s true for many companies as they’re able to produce precise and error-free projects with less production time. You may think that it’ll cost you a fortune to invest in CNC machines, but remember that your future profits could be unstoppable with the help of such innovations.