Computer numerical control, which is more commonly known in Australia simply as CNC, is a type of machining process that fully engages with the computerised world. Unlike hand machining methods, such as oxy cutting, drilling and boring, CNC machining is a computer-aided technique. This means that designs can be met at a highly consistent level time after time. Indeed, CNC techniques can be used in conjunction with a wide range of equipment and other machining services. If you are considering choosing a CNC operator to assist with a manufacturing process that you would like to outsource or have some fabrication requirements, then it is advisable to understand a little more about modern CNC machining.
Firstly, it is essential to know that CNC machining requires programming. In order to guide the machining process, the design that is being made or the process that is being followed needs to be delivered to the machines doing them by a computer. Therefore, the computer needs to be programmed, most commonly in a G-code language.
When the necessary data has been input into the software the machining tool is subsequently guided into shaping or processing the workpiece according to the parameters set by the programmer. This might be, for example, where certain holes are to be made or which sections of metalwork need to be cut away to form a design. Usually, a qualified engineer will programme a CNC computer to meet each design's requirements from measurements sent in the form of technical drawings.
Advantages of CNC Machining
In stark contrast to manually guided methods of machining, CNC is a fully automated process. Doing away with some of the problems that are associated with human error, CNC affords certain other benefits when machining. Among the key advantages of choosing a CNC machining process are:
Efficient production cycles. Once a CNC machining process has begun and the initial processes have been checked for quality, the technique becomes extremely time efficient. So long as the CNC computer has been properly programmed, the machining equipment rarely requires maintenance or downtime for tooling to be reset. This means it allows for faster production rates than manual guidance.
Low production costs. Thanks to its production speed and minimal costs in terms of skilled and semi-skilled labour requirements, CNC machining is cost-effective. As a repeated process for higher volume production runs, it offers particularly good value for money.
Uniformity of output. A high-precision process, CNC machining typically offers a desirable level of design consistency with one finished product or component being almost indistinguishable from the next.