What Does the CNC Machining Process Actually Look Like in Practice?

CNC machining enables workers in a manufacturing environment to create very precise products without manually operating tools themselves. Instead, manufacturing devices use a programmed instruction to perform tasks such as cut sheet metal to size or drill holes.

In this article, we’ll explain the CNC machining process and how it looks in practice.

Defining CNC Machining

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. All it really means is the automated control of machining tools such as mills, lathes, and even 3D printers from a computer. It’s something we think of as very modern and high tech, but Numerical Control for manufacturing purposes is actually older than you may expect. We’ll talk about that in a moment.

One of the most impressive things about CNC machining is that it can be used for very precise work such as laser engraving. Check out this page for more info and an excellent example of laser engraving that is intricately detailed.

The History

The history of CNC machines is quite surprising. They were first invented by John T. Parsons in the 1940s to help with manufacturing requirements after World War II. His numerical machine control tools were the predecessor to today’s CNC machines.

Even back in the 1940s, considerations that Parsons was making regarding numerical control included types of machining, engineering tolerances, and types of tolerances. We’ll talk a little bit about each of those topics below.

Today, smart CNC that is powered by cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech is still evolving within the manufacturing industry and changing the way products are designed and produced.

Types of Machining

There are a lot of different common types of CNC machining. The most common types are called 5-axis machining, lathes, mill tools, and a range of non-milling machines. Wire EDM, waterjet cutters, laser cutters, and plasma cutters also come under the category of CNC machining types.

Each type of tool operates on a different axis to achieve a different desired result for the manufacturer. Some of the above cutters also use extremely advanced technology such as lasers and plasma to produce precise work that would be dangerous for humans to do by hand.

Engineering Tolerances

There are two main types of tolerances: scale and density.

So, one thing to consider is the precision of the tools. A standard tolerance for a CNC machining service can be as little as ±0.001”. That’s approximately the width of a human hair.

Another consideration for tolerance is the strength of the material and the pressure being applied during the machining process.

The material being engineered, cut, or manipulated must withstand the pressure that’s being applied to it. Weight, thickness, and pressure are all carefully calculated so that the program applies the right amount of pressure to the materials without breaking them.

Learn More About CNC Machining

Want to learn more about CNC machining? Laser engraving tools like Lasit or 3D printers like Creality Ender 3 Pro are a great place to continue exploring the topic.

We hope you enjoyed our guide. Read more of our blogs on a range of interesting subjects today!

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