CNC machining is a kind of manufacturing process where a pre-programmed computer software controls the movement of the machines and tools in manufacturing. This software can be used to control a wide range of complicated types of machinery like grinders, routers, mills, and lathes. With the use of CNC machining, cutting a three-dimensional material can be done with only a single set of commands.

CNC stands for ‘computer numerical control’. It supersedes the need for human control to guide the machines and tools through buttons lever and wheels. It might look like an ordinary computer. However, the consoles and software programs in this computer used by CNC machining is what separates it from other types of computation.

CNC machines were first developed in the 40’s and 50’s, and the prototype relied on telecom’s data storage technology known then as ‘punched tape’ or ‘perforated paper tape.’ From the punched tape technology, it transitioned into analog and then into digital computer processing that has gained traction in the 1950s and 1960s.

How does it Work?

When the CNC machine is activated, the desired geometry of the product is programmed into the software, which in turn will dictate the corresponding machines and tools. This dimensional task is executed in the same manner as the robot.

In programming CNC machines, the code generator, which is within the numerical system of the program, has an assumption that the system is flawless, although there is a probability of error, which is greater when the CNC machine is cutting in more than one direction. This placement of tool in the numerical control system is made with a series of inputs called part program.

These CNC programmings are fed into the computers using a small keyboard, and the programming stays in the memory of the computer. These codes are written and edited by programmers. Contrary to what others believe in, CNC systems have much more computational capacities, and the existing programs are continuously evolving with newer prompts being added to the preexisting programs using revised code.

Today, in CNC machining, production is through pre-programmed software that is mostly automatic. The dimensions are set into the system using CAD software, and then the machine converts them into a finished product using another software know as CAM (computer-aided manufacturing).

Of course in manufacturing the use of tools like cutters and drills are necessary. So how CNC machining does accommodates them? CNC machines are more sophisticated because they combine several different functions necessary into one cell. In some CNC machines, you will have an installation, which is a combination of different machines with a set of robotic arms to transfer the parts from one application to the other. Only the same program controls these functions.

Types of CNC Machines

There are two general types of CNC machines, the conventional CNC machining technologies, and the new (novel) machining technology. Included in the conventional technologies are the drill, lathes and milling machines while in the novel technologies there is the electrical or chemical machining and the rest of the cutting mediums. You can use a variety of material with the CNC machine. The choice depends upon the application. The most common materials are aluminum, copper, titanium, steel and even wood or fiberglass.