CNC Intro Questions

Dec 2 21:18 2007 Ivan Irons Print This Article

Here are some basic question's if you are brand new to CNC.

Questions,Guest Posting Questions and a few more Questions

What is CNC?  What do the letters “C-N-C” stand for?  How can it help me?  Why would I want to learn it?Where do I start?Do I need special software?  If so, which one?Do I need a machine?  If so, how much?

We will get to all of these questions shortly and cover each of them thoroughly.  What has probably led you here today are questions?  You have problems you want to solve and you think CNC can help?  Guess what, that is exactly how I began the CNC journey as well!

So, where am I at today?Today I have multiple CNC machines that I work with.  Each have their own nuances, software, capabilities and functions.  The point of it is that they are all CNC.  They all follow the same basic process.  That process is pure gold if you know it.  You can move from machine to machine and know what is going on.  That is what I want to teach you.

CNC Machines I own today:CNC Plasma Cutter – My first machine.  A good first project if you want to build a CNC machine.  Born out of necessity.  She is a little rough around the edges, but a solid friend.Vinyl Cutter – This is a unique type of CNC Machine.  This machine uses a small knife to cut out vinyl in any shape or size.  Think “sticker machine.”  You know the stickers on the back of every jacked up truck you have ever seen.  You know, “P_ss on Chevy, Ford, Dodge, etc.  So a vinyl cutter is actually a “Redneck sticker-making machine.”  I actually bought it to cut sandblast resist, which is a whole different story.CNC Milling Machine – My third machine.  This one I purchased.  It is actually a CNC Bridgeport Clone if you want to get technical.  It is funny how addictive this hobby is.  I bought this machine to make the parts for a CNC Wood Router.  “Wait, you bought one CNC Machine to build another CNC Machine?”  The answer is…. YES!  I love this hobby.CNC Wood Router – My fourth machine.  My father likes woodworking and I like steel working.  This is kind of a bridge machine for me.  I have found woodworking with CNC to be really cool.  It has gotten me into 3D milling on the cheap.  Think of the cost of 3D milling a brick of aluminum or a block of wood into a shape.  That’s right.  No Brainer.  Wood is free in comparison. 

CNC Hobby Growth StoryCNC as a hobby has really seen a huge growth spurt over the last 8 years.  I think I stepped into it about two years after it started cooking in the late 90s.  When I jumped in there were a few CNC Groups going already and about three different CNC Plasma Tables available at the hobby level.  I don’t know where the other machine types were at the time because I came in through the plasma path.  I would guess they were further behind as CNC Plasma Cutters was one of the first areas of CNC to take off in the Hobby arena.

Most of the growth I would attribute to the Internet.  Groups formed, ideas were shared.  Feedback was given.  People started making “chips” and didn’t look back.  The Internet brought a very expensive technology into garages across the country.  When I built my $4000 CNC Plasma Table a hobbyist class machine was around $10,000 and a commercial machine was $100,000 to as high as you wanted to go.

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Ivan Irons
Ivan Irons

Ivan is active in CNC Tutorial and DIY CNC. CNC Book is one of his expertise.

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