An Overview about CNC Machining

07 January 2020

Without a single doubt, industry insiders view CNC Machining as a revolutionary means of processing raw metal workpieces. Unlike the incremental improvements that have touched machine shop tooling technology, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology has totally transformed the manufacturing sector. This is a quantum leap in automated machining, not a marginal development in some parts forming procedure. Anyway, upon leaving the superlatives behind, let’s map out an active CNC workstation.

The Role of A CNC Workstation

This is a specially configured computer. It’s not located in the machine shop, not with dust and metal filings flying around. Sealed inside an office or environmentally filtered enclosure, the workstation is running 3D software. It’s in this computer workspace that complex geometrical profiles and dimensions are mapped onto metal workpieces. Now, this is the important part. An interface is required to translate the software’s view of the component, to transform the virtual part features into a language that a milling tool or six-axis cutter can interpret. These codes are created by Numerical Commands, by a set of software encoded signals that form a digital interface between the workstation and the CNC machines.

Consolidating Machine Shop Configurations

Nowadays, specialized CNC machines combine computer functions and milling work into one chunky equipment frame. There’ll be a programmable LCD panel on the exterior of a sealed enclosure. Commands will be sent to turn a shaft, to position a workpiece, or to operate a cooling jet of water or oil. A lathe gets to work, a cutting implement drops into position, then the six-axis rig pulls back as the next set of commands are delivered. Capable of automatically shaping parts according to the highest possible engineering tolerances, this machinery produces densely detailed metal components, which then go on to serve in countless industrial applications. The mining sector, aerospace applications, heavy plant gear and way more besides, the technology has no limits.

As an overview, think of CNC machining as a way of translating highly detailed 3D models into real-world tooling commands. That part of the sequence is pretty much fixed, although the software is always improving. As for the tooling side of things, this part of the process is undergoing more developments. Milling tools and lathes, multi-axis and multi-angle forming tools, too, they’re all maturing. From here, though, there’s also water jet cutting, plasma cutters, Electric Discharge Machines (EDM), and 3D printing. It’s an exciting time to be part of the CNC machining world. The bending, cutting, turret punching, milling, and routing tools are automated, so even a clients’ prototype can be sent via email attachment to receive immediate attention from this fully automated, high-tolerance parts forming solution.

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