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How Does CNC Machining Work?

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If you’re new to the manufacturing industry, you will likely have heard of CNC machining, but aren't quite sure what this is and how it benefits manufacturing firms and factories. This type of manufacturing machine is a very advanced and ever improving system that helps factories and manufacturing companies deliver high quality products in high volume at low prices. Read on to learn more!

First of all, what can CNC machining do? Essentially, this industrial machine has one function: to remove pieces of metal, plastic or other material from a larger block of that material to form a shape, which then becomes a component or a product. The method of removing that material varies by machine, either it can be by using a lathe, a milling machine, or by drilling, but with all these methods, the main function of removing material to shape an object is the same.

So how does the machine do this? The clue is in fact in the name, CNC stands for computer numerical control. At the heart of all CNC machining is the central computer, which is fed data from a CAD program, or computer aided design application. This data contains the information that the CNC machine needs to produce the object. The CNC computer is connected to the lathe itself, and so the entire process of shaping the metal through the three main ways is fully automated by the machine. One of the key benefits of this system is that each machine can be reprogrammed using a piece of software to accommodate different roles. For example, if a factory had ten machines, on one day they could all be assigned to milling, the next day to drilling, and the following day to lathing. Compare this to a manual machine, where precious factory floor space needs to be filled with machines that cannot be reprogrammed. This means some machines will be left idle on certain days and the maximum productivity of the factory cannot be achieved.

Unlike a manual lathe or milling machine, the computer knows exactly what to do, so a skilled technician is not needed. Instead, the technician of a CNC machining system is relegated to a manager, who maintains the system, ensures it is fully operational and has enough materials to work with. The flip side is that one technician can manage more than one machine, maybe between 3 and 5 at a time, which means that one technician can increase their productivity five-fold. However, despite not actively engaging in any manual milling, lathing or drilling, the technician should be trained in these skills, as this knowledge is essential in operating these machines.

Because CNC machining is fully computer controlled, accuracy is something that comes as standard. A computer controlled lathe has a steadier hand than a technician operating a manual one, so unprecedented levels of accuracy can be attained. CNC is actually now industry standard and required for the levels of accuracy needed for most componentsArticle Search, since manually made products cannot compete.

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