What you should know about CNC machining

by Michael M.

The world advances at a very fast rate. Emerging technologies and innovations spring up every day and are competing at an incredible rate. Manufacturing companies can’t afford to keep doing jobs to meet high demands based on manual power. Therefore, CNC machining was born.

CNC machining is a relatively new process. Over fifty to sixty years ago, machinists were in charge of designing every piece from start to finish and merging them. Now, anyone can order CNC parts online and have their prototypes sent to them from any part of the world.

As a beginner, most of these terms might look strange to you. What is CNC machining? What does CNC stand for? What industries use this process? What are the advantages of CNC machining over traditional prototyping and manufacturing processes?

Many of the answers you seek can be found in this guide.

Top things you should know about CNC machining

1. The Acronym

CNC is an acronym that stands for Computer Numerical Control. In simple terms, Computer Numerical Control involves the use of computers to regulate how machine tools like lathes and mills operate. It follows pre-programmed software instructions to handle cutting operations.

CNC machining works on a wide range of materials, but the most common ones are aluminum, titanium, brass, copper, and plastics like polypropylene, foam, etc.

CNC machining is a process that has various applications in the manufacturing industry. It is also used in other industries, ranging from medical, automotive, aerospace, to chemical industries.

2. Programmed language

You may be wondering, if CNC machines are running on pre-programmed software, what language do they run on?

Excellent question. The programming language they run on is G-code. It’s a special CNC software and programming language that is used to control and regulate every movement that the machine tool takes to produce an object.

G-code instructions determine the speed and positioning of the cutting tool and its distance from the workpiece. It also determines the feed rate of the material into the cutting tool amid other things.

3. Everything starts with CAD

CAD is an acronym that stands for Computer-Aided Design. The entire process starts with a 2D CAD design or a 3D design model. It is from this design that the G-Code is derived and the manufacturers give the design and code a trial run. If you’ve ever gone to a manufacturing company and heard the manufacturers talk about cutting air, it means the trial run.

Carrying out a trial run is super important because it helps to prevent any mistakes that could cause severe damage. If the trial run is satisfactory, then the G-code can be used to cut the real parts.

4. It repeats processes accurately

One of the top advantages CNC machining has over conventional methods is its accuracy and precision.

If you give the manufacturer a design and he/she creates the prototype using CNC machining, the tolerance level between the design and the prototype will be very small. The cut parts would be very accurate.

CNC machining can be used to transform a 3-dimensional piece into a single piece as well. The same CNC program can be used repeatedly to make the same type of design.

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