CNC (computer numerical control) is the automation of machine instruments through the use of computers which have been programmed to execute any number of commands. From wood routing to laser cutting and 3D printing, there are CNC machines for nearly every commercially utilized manufacturing process and application. CNC machining works with a variety of materials including metals, woods, acrylics, foams, and thermoplastics.
CNC systems vary in their composition as some systems combine all necessary tools into a single unit while other designs may consist of individual, tool-specific units interconnected by external controllers.Regardless of their specific composition, all modern CNC systems provide automation of the design and manufacturing process of a machined part. While CAD (computer-aided design) software defines the physical boundaries of an end product, CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software translates those dimensions into manufacturing commands. Through the use of post processing software these commands are translated and loaded into a CNC machine.
The major advantages of CNC precision machining include the production of complex parts with a high degree of accuracy while maintaining lower production and setup costs. CNC machining assists in improving the overall degree of accuracy because it is a reliable and fully developed technology that greatly eliminates the possibility of human error. Moreover, by freeing time from operators within the production process, attention can be focused on quality assurances and offering project oversight, which helps ensure the detailed requirements of production processes are met. Regarding the reduction of costs, CNC machining not only cuts costs by reducing the necessity of skilled operators but also reduces the overall amount of material waste.
Another advantage of CNC precision machining is the improvement of workflows from prototyping to full-scale production. At the prototyping level, CNC machines allow developers to quickly build functional designs that can be used for testing. Then, when a demand builds in the marketplace, CNC machining can quickly allow for a shift into full-scale development. At each step, turnaround times are dramatically reduced, allowing companies the ability to greatly reduce missed opportunity costs.