CNC machining is a manufacturing process that uses pre-programmed software, which gives orders to the movement of other machinery and factory tools. The process can control many complex machines like routers, mills, and grinders. Similar to 3D-printing, CNC machines can handle three-dimensional cutting to accomplish tasks.
Computer numerical control (CNC) helps to bypass the limitation of manual control or tasks that require a live operator to implement prompts and commands via buttons or levers. To someone unfamiliar with CNC technology, its many components may look like a regular computer. But, the programming involved to employ CNC is different than everyday computing.
How Do CNC Machines Work?
A CNC machine works by using software that dictates what the tool and/or machinery will do at a given time. By programming specific tasks in a code generator, the CNC machine works similarly to a robot by executing almost flawless (despite human error) designs that cut in more than one direction at the same time.
With multiple machines going at once, the programs are inputted with the use of small keyboards instead of a ‘punch card’ method from the past. All programming stays in the CNC’s computer memory, although programmers write the code itself. For this reason, CNC systems offer a wide range of computational capacity with the positive of tweaking pre-existing programs to revise code for other projects.
CNC Machines and Accessibility
Similar to other AI or VI companies, CNC machining services make it easier to compute machines for customer purposes. Although CNC machines are more accessible than they were in the past, the cheapest models (CNC Mill) can be as low as $6,000 or as high as $50,000. This price range is out of reach for most consumers, but with the advent of CNC machining services, any company can upload their own CAD files to get their design made in under a week. Soon, CNC machines will be cheaper and more accessible to smaller businesses.
CNC machines are versatile in their usability. They can effectively cut and mold materials across multiple industries, which can range from your typical hobbyist to large-scale manufacturing businesses. Below are the most common applications for CNC technology.
Cabinets and Furniture
Home hardware stores are using CNC technology for cabinet and furniture manufacturing because they can create multiples of the same product with minimal errors. CNC is also able to create customized pieces more beautiful than the standard, off-the-floor models that may be more attractive to consumers. Precision based panel doors, chairs, tables, and countertops are possible with the accuracy of CNC machinery.
A well-made sign can explain what your business is with minimal effort. Whether you’re making a small-scale 2D sign or a complex third-dimension sign component, CNC technology can create a seamless design. Most CNC machines can work with various materials, such as wood, acrylic, foam, brass, plastic, aluminum, and more. For small scale signage, CNC machines are sophisticated enough to create braille, tactile text, and character spacing that comply with ADA signage regulations.
Creating a musical instrument that sounds like it’s supposed to is a complicated venture, but it’s an easy task for CNC machines. CNC routers can produce every component to its exact specifications so the manufacturer can produce large quantities of violins, guitars, and more without sacrificing the sound or performance of the instrument.
3D Modeling and Prototyping
All products need a prototype before hitting the manufacturer floor, but this process can take years to develop without either 3D-printing or CNC machinery. Without this technology, the prototype could go through many more stages, which could lead to a time and cost spike. CNC machines can scan, copy, engineer, and reverse-engineer all components, then craft the product and prototype to your specifications. Finally, the process accelerates thanks to the precision and accuracy of the product.