CNC or Computer Numerical Control is computerized control of machining tools such as lathes, drills, boring tools etc. A CNC machine modifies various pieces of raw materials such as plastic, composite, metal, wood or ceramic without a manual operator according to particular specifications which are preprogrammed.
CNC machines employ a combination of a motorized navigable tool and in many cases a motorized navigable platform also. Both of these are controlled by a computer core. Desired instructions are delivered to the CNC machine through graphical CAD (Computer-aided design) files. These files are then transformed into a sequential program of control instructions and then implemented.
If you are looking for a CNC machine, this article will help you understand the different types of CNC machines available so that you can make a well-informed decision. Take a look:
- CNC Milling Machines – This comprises a mill which uses rotary cutters to cut, slice or shave sections off from raw material. The CNC technology involved allows for higher precision in milling as compared to a manually performed milling operation. This CNC milling machine can be programmed to vary in angle, depth and direction of cut.
- CNC Press Brakes – These are the most contemporary offerings in manufacturing. They can be programmed to carry out different bends and come with multiple axis back gauges. Though it is bit on the expensive side, it’s a worthy investment for production in the long term.
- CNC Drilling Machines – With advancements in CNC technology, sophisticated drilling machines can be programmed so that the user can achieve accurate positioning of holes in desired raw materials. Even in case of thick materials, interrupted cut drilling or Peck – a method used to drill holes in a stepwise procedure can be used. A CNC turret drilling machine offers the option of mounting multiple drill bits and cutting tools on the turret. With automation, the tool of your choice can be indexed accurately and quickly into position for drilling purposes.
- CNC Grinders – These come with an abrasive wheel which functions as a cutting device and is useful for achieving extremely fine finishes or super light cuts. The abrasive wheel is available in various sizes and made up of different types of diamonds, inorganic materials or stones. A variety of grinders are available for various applications. For instance, CNC Cylindrical Grinders, CNC Centerless Grinders, CNC Surface Grinders etc., which are programmable and automatic production grinders.
- CNC Lathes – These are perfect for manufacturing symmetrical objects which are spherical, cylindrical or conical in shape. They are used in turning centers where they are operated by rotating the raw material rapidly on a spindle. A cutting tool is then used to achieve the desired shape from the material while it is turning.
- CNC EDM – EDM or Electronic Discharge Machines can be programmed with CNC technology to save and repeatedly carry out particular jobs which would otherwise require long periods of time to setup manually. These machines are used to cut extremely precise holes in a variety of metals.
- CNC Machining Centers – These are basically high-end computerized milling machines. Earlier, manual vertical and horizontal milling machines were used which were suited for producing unique pieces. However, any type of production work would be difficult to replicate with these manual machines. With CNC horizontal and vertical machining centers, repetitive jobs can be carried out faster, with ease and precision. Once the desired program is entered, it can be stored in either internal or external memory and can be reused at will. This saves crucial resources such as time and manpower besides giving products of higher quality.
- CNC Punches – CNC Turret Punches or Single End Punches are highly popular. The turret punches have a computerized rotating turret which spins and allows tooling of several different shapes. The punches can move smaller sheets of aluminum, stainless, steel, plastic or other materials and punch holes with high precision. They can punch varied shapes such as oval, squares, oblong or rounds.
The latest sophisticated computer-controlled machines are available for a variety of functions today. Those in the machining vertical can benefit greatly from the varied types of CNC machines in terms of quality and profit.