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What Is CNC?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control is an automated control of machining tools such as; drills, lathes, mills, and 3D printers using a computer. It takes digitized data and is controlled, automated and monitored by a computer and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) program. CNC machines are fully automated, needing only digital files with instructions about cutting trajectories and tooling. It is a method for automating control of machine tools through the use of software embedded in a microcomputer attached to the tool. It is commonly used in manufacturing for machining metal and plastic parts. A CNC machine processes a piece of material to meet specifications by following a coded programmed instruction and without a manual operator directly controlling the machining operation. The machine can be a milling machine, lathe, router, welder, grinder, laser or waterjet cutter, sheet metal stamping machine, robot, or many other types of machines.

The first machining tools, such as mills and lathes, were controlled manually by turning dials and moving levers. In contrast to CNC, each object to be manufactured gets a custom computer program. Usually written in an international standard language called G-code, it is then stored and executed by the machine control unit (MCU), which is a microcomputer attached to the machine. In addition to automation, A G-code in CNC programming controls the movements of a machine, dictating how and where a machine should move to fabricate a part. Another code in CNC, the M-code, functions by programming miscellaneous machine functions, including starting and stopping specific actions or programs. Some CNC systems are integrated with CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software, which can speed the process of programming the MCU (microcontroller unit). Integration with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software and related applications. CNC provides the ability to fabricate complex parts through the precise control of tools. CNC can also be applied to a variety of the machine’s functions, be it cutting, printing, or something else.

Based on the functions or types of machined parts, CNC machines can be classified into five types:CNC Milling machines, CNC lathes, CNC drilling machines, CNC plasma cutters, and CNC grinders. CNC is considered to provide more precision, complexity, and repeatability than is possible with manual machining. Other benefits include greater accuracy, speed, and flexibility, as well as capabilities such as couture machining, which allows the milling of contoured shapes, including those produced in 3D designs.

There are 5 common types of CNC machining. CNC machining is the fabrication of a component using a CNC-controlled machine.

  • Lathes and Turning machines – these machines are characterized by their ability to rotate materials during the machining operation.
  • CNC Laser Machines – has a pointed router with a highly focused laser beam that is used to precisely cut, slice, or engrave materials.
  • CNC Milling machines – characterized by their ability to rotate cutting tools while holding the material workpiece/block stationary.
  • CNC Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM) – uses highly controlled electrical sparks to manipulate materials into the desired shape.
  • CNC Plasma Cutting Machines – also used to cut materials, however, they perform this operation using a high-powered plasma (electronically-ionized gas) torch that is controlled by a computer.

CNC is a technology that is key to the future of manufacturing and automation. It is crucial to the modern world since it allows digital designs to be fabricated in all kinds of shapes and materials. But on the other hand, CNC can be more expensive, it also requires more maintenance than other production methods and compels companies to hire a skilled CNC programmer. If you’re interested in buying a CNC machine, please look through our used CNC inventory or contact us today and we’ll guarantee that we can help you find the right machine that’s perfect for your application.

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