The CNC in CNC machining stands for computer numerical control. It differs from conventional machining through the use of computers to control the machine tools. CNC machining units use the same lathes, grinders, mills, and routers that conventional machining uses. Let’s explore the main advantages of CNC machining over conventional machining.
CNC Machining Vs. Conventional Machining
Any automated manufacturing process has a high degree of repeatability. Variability in the end result is now down to environmental factors you can also control, gradual wear and tear that should be monitored for, and variations in the material that exists with conventional machining. The reduced variability means that if you have a good design and correct program, your product will be consistent and will likely fall within very tight tolerances, if not Six Sigma levels of quality. You cannot get this same level of repeatable consistency with conventional machining operations.
Computer control gives you far greater precision than even a skilled human operator. CNC machining can give you ten-thousandth of an inch or fraction of millimeter tolerances that human operators cannot deliver. CNC machines can also create very precise 3D carving and drilling that humans may not be able to do.
CNC machines can work with a variety of materials. They can work with any type of metal, and many CNC machines can manipulate plastic pieces as well. Plethora, for example, can machine more than twenty materials. Some even machine and handle wood.
And, you can integrate a 3D printer with a CNC machine to finish printed polymer products. Another benefit of CNC machines is the fact that you don’t have to waste time and money creating prototypes. You can design items to be made from a single piece of raw material instead of creating several parts to be attached to each other, eliminating potential failure points.
4. Lower HR Costs
Specialized programs are used for CNC machines programming, but they can work from the 2D and 3D computer models of your design. The CNC machining operation itself relies on far fewer people than the conventional machine shop since each machine can do so many tasks in sequence with minimal supervision. You can even automate the hand-off between different CNC machines so that a human only has to ensure the raw materials are properly fed in, the equipment works correctly, and handle the final product. You can run a machine shop with far fewer people, the remainder consisting mostly of mechanics and engineers who you’d have on staff anyway. You’re less likely to be adversely impacted by wage increases or union strikes. Labor costs for those who support CNC machines are often lower because they don’t have to be as skilled as conventional machinists.
CNC milling and machining has many advantages over conventional machining that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you need a large number of exact duplicates or need to provide precise, tiny, and awkward angles a human operator would have trouble creating; then you want to use CNC machines.