John Parson’s contributions make him be considered the father of the 2nd industrial revolution. Parsons Corporation pioneered the numerical control that is the precursor to the current CNC machine. He concluded that the future of manufacturing was connecting machines with computers. Today CNC-manufactured parts are available in most industries.
Understanding the CNC Machines
The word CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. So, how do you define CNC machining? CNC machining is the process of applying a computer-driven machine product to produce different shapes parts out of solid material. Thus a CNC machine is a computer-driven machine that produces different shapes from solid material. Most CNC machines use applications like Easel Software to achieve different shapes and sizes. The software will enhance optimized automation, customization, and control for improved accuracy.
Like other automated motion control machines, CNC consists of three primary components like;
- Motion system
- Command function
- Feedback system.
The CNC machine works alongside digital instructions typically made on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. CAD is an essential part of CNC projects used to create a design. On the other hand, CAM enables a user to organize workflow by setting up tool paths and running a cut simulation before the real cutting. Typically, CAM works alongside CAD software and generates g-codes that direct CNC tools. The CNC machine controller can read the G-codes written by the software and interprets the design, and moves cutting tools to the desired shape on multiple axis.
Unlike gears and levers on old equipment, the automated cutting process is more accurate than manual movement and much faster. Modern CNC machines can hold multiple tools, thus making many cuts. However, the number of axes and the types and number of tools that the CNC machine can automatically apply is considered to determine the complexity level of the workpiece the machine can produce.
Modern CNC with distributed numerical control programs can edit or compare original and edited programs side by side and show the edits. Also displaying drawings with advanced screen interface and most important, it can be stopped and restarted from where it left when a tool breaks the programs.
What are the types of CNC machines?
Below are different types of CNC machines.
- Lathes: Lathes turn the workpiece and moves the cutting tool to the workpiece. Lathes are commonly used to make symmetrical materials like cylinders or cones.
- Routers: Routers are used to cut large words, plastic, sheets, and metal dimensions. They operate on a 3-axis coordinate for three-dimension cutting.
- Milling: Milling comes in various sizes or types and runs on multiple dimensions. It moves accurately high ball screws to extract coordinates programmed.
How to Use a CNC Machine
Both programming and metal-working skills are essential for CNC operators. They enable optimal use of the power of a CNC machine. Traditionally, manual skills on how to cut metal were starting point. However, the software helps virtual drawing desired shapes and suggests tools paths to make those parts. The software has made it easier to make complex parts. For this reason, you have to prepare the CNC machine before running the program. These preparations include fixing the workpiece directly into the machine and attaching the necessary tooling to the proper machine components.