In order to get the best parts manufactured, you need to have a good understanding of what manufacturing option will work best for you. This will show you which machine shop to work with specifically. In this guide, we’ll be looking at Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, which is a very common form of manufacturing.
You’ll learn how CNC machining works, some benefits of this technology, different types of CNC machines, and tips to get the most out of your next CNC machining project.
What Is Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining?
CNC machining is a type of manufacturing that uses computers and automation to move the machine. This can be directly compared to traditional machining methods that are driven by hand and require manual measurements before cutting.
Benefits of CNC Machining
Today, it’s hard to find a machine shop that doesn’t use some form of CNC machinery.
CNC machines are a great way to boost the precision, repeatability, and accuracy of every part that the machine shop makes. Plus, the added automation will cut down on turnaround times and make each production run even more affordable.
Most CNC machines still require a level of manual operation, but there are plenty of CNC machines that can run almost completely autonomously.
Plus, CNC machines can make much more intricate parts, thanks to the added computation. Trying to make the same parts with manually-operated machines is borderline impossible.
Types of CNC Machines
Almost any traditional manual machine can be upgraded into a CNC machine. In most machine shops, you’ll see examples of CNC machines such as:
- CNC milling machines. Perhaps the most popular machine, CNC milling machines are great for working on non-spherical parts. They operate in 3 or 5 axes, giving a free range of motion along all of the axes. CNC milling machines are used for cutting, shaping, drilling, boring, and creating complex cuts.
- CNC lathes. These machines are the best for working with cylindrical parts. The cutting blade quickly rotates around a shared axis with the clamped-down raw material. The blades allow CNC lathes to shape, cut, bore, thread, and drill cylindrical parts.
- CNC routers. CNC routers are very common in woodworking, and they’re a great way to shape softer materials like plastics, wood, and foam. Routers are used to make intricate shapes or continuous patterns on materials.
- CNC waterjet and laser cutters. Laser cutters and waterjet cutters use high-strength lasers and streams of water, respectively, to cut through thinner materials. A CNC gantry moves the cutting head around the part quickly, much like the head of a 3D printer.
When You Might Use CNC Machinery
There are countless reasons why you might choose a CNC machine for your upcoming project. Typically, CNC machines are used when you want to make any number of parts that are precise, repeatable, and meet the specifications of your drawing.
A CNC milling machine can make a complicated plate and a CNC lathe can create a cylinder that threads directly into the first part you made. CNC machines can be used to create a single part, or hundreds of the same item for consumers.
Since CNC machinery is computer-driven, these machines can be used to create one-off, fully customized parts for your production facility. Anything from a bracket to safety shrouds or entire assemblies can be made with ease, thanks to CNC machinery.
How to Get the Best CNC-Machined Parts
To get high-quality parts made with CNC machines, you need to work with a high-quality machine shop. This is the company that houses and runs all of the CNC machinery, and they have a staff of highly-trained machinists who have experience making parts just like yours.
At Rapid Axis, we have machinists with decades of experience, and we’re always here to help fabricate your part — regardless of how many parts you want, and how complicated they are.
Another component of high-quality CNC-machined parts resolves around the engineering efforts put into the part’s design. You should also create detailed and high-quality manufacturing drawings, typically a series of 2D views of your part with added dimensions. These drawings will be used by our machinists to make your part, unless you’re providing sophisticated 3D CAM files (which are a lot more difficult to make).
To put it simply, you just need a good machine shop and good manufacturing drawings to get great parts made on a CNC machine.
Using CNC machinery is a good way to get high-precision parts made at affordable prices. Whether you need a single part for your operation or hundreds of parts for consumer applications, CNC machining is probably the best choice for you. To get the best results, consider Rapid Axis. We are a full-service manufacturing facility with plenty of high-quality CNC machines on our floor, and we’re here to provide great service for each of our customers — you can trust us with your smallest, largest, or most complicated projects. Get a free quote today.