In recent years, CNC machining has been steadily overtaking the traditional machining industry. One can see this phenomenon as computers replacing human minds, just less severe.
After all, the term ‘CNC’ literally means ‘Computer Numerical Control’. The technology was first introduced to reduce human effort and make production processes faster and better. At the end of the day, both CNC machining and conventional machining aim towards one goal — producing quality machined parts.
The major difference lies in their approach and the fact that one option requires manual labor while the other boasts 90% automation.
Thus, the recent shift of major manufacturing companies to utilize the power of CNC machining over convention methods does not come as a surprise. Industries like healthcare, military, and aerospace need precision parts with tolerances as tight as +/- .0005, which is very difficult to achieve with conventional machining. Perfection isn’t the only thing CNC machining offers, though.
Below are some of the major reasons why CNC machining is becoming everyone’s favorite child.
1. Reduced Labor Costs; One Experienced Machinist for Multiple Machines
In the case of conventional machining, every machine needs a dedicated technician with experience, skill, and extensive knowledge of the machine in hand. In contrast, CNC machining is hugely controlled by a software program and requires very little human interaction apart from the initial set up and data feeding. CNC machining also demands less advanced training, further reducing the labor costs. With computers playing a major role, the chances of human error and compromised workplace safety are also reduced by a high percentage.
2. Large Quantity; Highest Quality
Because it requires manual effort, conventional machining is mostly set for low volume, small-quantity projects. CNC machines, however, are built to provide maximum accuracy whether they are tasked to produce a few dozen metal machined parts or thousands of them.
Their high-quality material gives them resistance to wear and tear, which is common with conventional machining. As a result, they can run 24 hours a day with timely but quick maintenance. Additionally, CNC machining utilizes advanced software, which can be updated regularly per specifications, to allow for the easy manufacture of super-complex parts.
CNC machines also come with automated cooling systems, reducing the chances of heat damage. Many advanced machine models come with built-in chip storage and a conveyor belt for chip management.
3. Part Replication is 100x better
Built to control exact velocity and positioning, CNC machines can produce several thousands of 100% identical parts in a record time, a feat that is impossible to achieve with handheld or conventional machining. Machines can be programmed to apply the same cut or do the same finishing repeatedly without compromising on the quality of the machined part. Conventional machining, on the other hand, requires a skilled operator to manually place the tool at every step of the machining process, which obviously would take a lot of time and patience. And even with such dedication, variations are to be expected.
4. No Prototypes Necessary
Prototypes are needed to simulate designs and map their feasibility. Before CNC, every manufacturer would chalk out actionable prototypes, test-run them, and then work on the machining process. When done manually, this whole routine usually took several days or sometimes even months. The introduction of CNC machines ushered in software programming wherein you could input your design and visually see if you could work with it under realistic scenarios. This means no extra expenses for prototype development, shorter production times, and a bare minimum labor cost.
5. Ability to Develop Complex Parts
CNC machines can be reprogrammed and updated at any time, giving them the liberty to produce 3D, 4D or even 5D parts with ease. This allows for a smoother shift between regular CNC machined part production and complex part production if required. Additionally, the software can store designs, so you can revisit any desired shape or other design even faster.
6. Major Eye for Specifications
CNC machining is designed to focus on precision; machines adamantly maintain the specifications provided by their operator. Throughout the production process, every step is visually tested to ensure the desired effect and dimensions.
7. Works for Every Material Type
This is probably the biggest advantage CNC machining has over conventional machining. CNC machines can utilize almost every type of material, including metal, steel, wood, foam, or sensitive plastics.
CNC Machining Adaptability
Delivering top-of-the-line accuracy, precision, and speed for product quantities both high and low, CNC machining presents a highly beneficial choice for manufacturers across a variety of industries.