Within the manufacturing industry, CNC machines have been one of the most innovative and effective inventions that have helped redefine and revolutionize the way the manufacturing process is completed.

A brief outline

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which is also sometimes referred to as NC (Numerical Control), and is the idea of manufacturing products by using machine tools that are controlled via computer systems. This allows for more precise and intricate parts to be designed, which can be produced in a far quicker timeframe and at a cheaper cost.

Humble beginnings

The first CNC machines were created in the late 1940s and early 1950s and used a system that relied on punched tape. The machines were based on existing manufacturing tools, and were edited to use motors to follow the controls of the punched tape.

Coming about shortly after WWII, there was a strong desire to create more sophisticated and precise parts, while also speeding up the manufacturing process. By utilizing a control machine to manufacture the parts, machines were able to create products in a far more efficient manner.

Originally utilizing a template of human input, from this the CNC machines were programmed by hand to use the punch tapes that were input by the operator. They were then able to replicate the same process over and over again, using the same commands as the original.

A digital age

Soon after their initial invention CNC machines were developing at a rapid rate, and with this came the rise of CAD (computer-aided drawing). CAD began replacing the role of the draftsman and drawers that originally would have created the blueprints of the production part.

In its place, CAD used computer software to assist with the technical drawing and specifications of a product, which also translated into the electronic instructions that operated the CNC machines. The use of CAD within the design process allowed its operators to greatly improve a large number of elements in order to advance the overall quality of the product.

Modern CNC machines

Today there is a large array of different uses for machines, with the majority of them using CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) and CAD to produce highly precise and complex designs. Common machines include lathes, which are a rotating drive that spins in order to form the material to the desired shape. The lathe rotates on its axis to allow drilling, cutting, sanding, turning and other operations to be performed.

Another common CNC machine that is often used in the manufacturing industry is a milling machine. With the mill it uses a cutter to remove material from the surface of the workpiece, working away to create the desired shape. Modern CNC machines will often have multiple cutting points to allow maximum effectiveness and adaptability.

The future

They are becoming increasingly innovative, and with their development it has dramatically assisted the manufacturing industry in creating more intricate and precise designs that are becoming quicker and more economical to produce. Many see CNC machines as the future of manufacturing, and it’s safe to say that they won’t be disappearing anytime soon. MAIJIN

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