A Guide To CNC Machining For Metal
A Computer Numerical Control machine, better known as a CNC machine, is an efficient modern method of manufacture for a wide range of items, but is particularly useful for metal products.
Before considering CNC as a method of metal fabrication, it is crucial that you have a rudimentary understanding of the CNC machining process. Below, you will find a brief summary of this. While it is not a comprehensive guide, it covers the basics in a way that will allow you to make informed decisions in the future.
How Does A CNC Machine Work?
A CNC machine has much more in common with a modern personal computer than other heavy industrial tools that most people think of when they imagine metal manufacturing – these machines are smart!
The CNC operator inputs code into the machine. This code tells the machine the dimensions, size and features of the item you would like to have made. Once the machining process begins, the machine automatically creates the item to the specifications it has been given. All the operator needs to do is monitor the process, to ensure there have been no errors. This is much less labour intensive than traditional manufacturing and represents a great modern innovation.
What Can Be Done with A CNC Machine?
CNC machines can produce both small and large metal parts – the only limiting factor is the size and capacity of the machine.
They are commonly used to perform repetitive and small manufacturing tasks, such as the production of small metal components for machinery. In addition to this, custom order for once-off and unique pieces of equipment are easily accommodated with the use of a CNC machine.
Producing a Prototype
The first step to having your desired component manufactured using a CNC machine is to have a prototype made, which can then be replicated by the machine.
Traditionally, a prototype would be a physical representation or model of the item you wish to have manufactured. While you can still replicate a physical prototype using a CNC machine, this is not actually the most efficient method.
Modern technology allows a prototype to be created digitally using computer design software. This is ideal for use with CNC machines, as they rely on data inputted via a computer. This means you can transfer the dimensions of a computer generated prototype directly into the machine and begin production much faster.
The Finished Product
Once you have received a finished product from a CNC machine. However advanced the process of CNC machining is, mistakes can still be made.
The first kind of error that you need to look for is one made by the machine itself. This could be a result of incorrect calibration, causing inconsistencies in the machining of metal items. The second and possibly the most common error with CNC machining is an input error. This is a basic mistake made inputting the data into the machine. A CNC machine relies on the information you feed it, so you need to make sure you are accurate!
For more information on CNC machining, contact a local engineering company that offers CNC machining services.