CNC equipment has become increasingly essential for the production of all sorts of products aimed at a range of commercial and consumer customers.
Unless you are already familiar with contemporary manufacturing techniques, you might not understand the precise role that this type of machinery plays in bringing the visions of designers and engineers to life. To address this, here is a look at how CNC gear and processes are used in contemporary production scenarios, from which you can appreciate why it is so impactful and appealing.
A brief intro to CNC equipment
Before diving in, it is worth establishing exactly what constitutes CNC machinery. Standing for computer numerical control, CNC kit is capable of processing many types of materials automatically, rather than requiring a human worker to dictate every movement it makes manually.
Whether drilling holes in wood, engraving the surface of metals, cutting plastics or reshaping composites, CNC equipment can do this and much more, with software in the driving seat.
Taking advantage of automation
According to Tanner Arnold of Revelation machinery, “The advantages of automation offered by CNC machinery put it head and shoulders above manual manufacturing technologies of the past”.
This insight is at the core of appreciating what CNC solutions bring to the table; rather than relying on the constant input and oversight of human craftspeople and operators, this type of machinery is capable of operating almost entirely autonomously.
There are a host of associated benefits that come with automating manufacturing processes, chief amongst which are the increased efficiency and the greater speed of operation that are achievable.
In the case of efficiency, CNC gear is simply more precise and reliable than incumbent alternatives, meaning that human error and fatigue are no longer necessary to factor into production costs. Likewise, the amount of waste produced is minimized, as no more than the necessary amount of material is removed by computer-controlled equipment.
Speed comes not only as a result of CNC equipment being able to move faster and with greater precision than any person could, but also as a result of the machinery having the potential to work day and night without stopping for breaks. In combination with efficiency, this means that costs can also be lowered across the board.
Automation has the further advantage of making heavy equipment safer to use since operators can be in an entirely different room to the machinery they are responsible for, rather than needing to be put in harm’s way on the factory floor.
In turn, this means that machines are actually simpler to operate, so rather than requiring years of training, they can be leveraged in less time with a shallower learning curve to encompass, saving on labor costs and making up for a shortfall in available skilled workers.
The other aspect of CNC machinery to note is that it is not a single type of equipment, but rather a whole ecosystem of different devices and solutions, all of which fall under the general banner of computer-controlled, partly automated manufacturing kit.
Once you start to look into it, you will see that CNC machines come in all shapes and sizes, and are capable of performing a whole range of different duties, whether for rapid prototyping, producing small runs of components for a single client, or putting to work as part of a larger production line.
More exotic forms of CNC equipment are also available, filling other roles as required. Laser cutters can etch and engrave metal, glass and stone, or be used to ablate surfaces and even clean components for maintenance purposes.
Electric discharge machines can remove material precisely through the use of powerful currents. CNC plasma cutters can cut and weld metals, all without requiring that a human worker is actively involved in guiding the incredibly intense heat of the cutting plasma jet, delivering even more safety.
Even in an age when additive manufacturing is also rising to prominence, the potency that CNC equipment represents should not be overlooked and will continue to shape manufacturing trends and consumer demand for many years to come.