CNC drilling employs computer automated machines to bore precision threads or holes into surfaces of variable material composition and thickness. An acronym for computer numerical control, this particular type of drilling utilizes advanced computer software to complete processing.
CNC machinists must have both an in-depth understanding of drilling and machine engineering as well as a keen understanding of computer programming since it pertains to manufacturing methodology. Commonly implemented in machine shops and mass production facilities across a broad range of industries, CNC drilling is used in the creation and modification of boats, shoe lasts, brush handles, golf clubs, furniture and more.
This fast and effective manufacturing technique is capable of producing accurate holes or threads in a fraction of the time necessary when manual operations are being practiced. For this reason industries such as aerospace, automotive, avionics, agriculture, food and chemical processing, pharmaceutical, military and defense frequently utilize CNC machining in order to cut costs, improve productivity and promote efficiency.
Drilling can be performed alone or in conjunction with various other tooling processes depending on the machine or cell configurations. Operations requiring multiple drill holes or threads of varying dimensions often employ equipment with multiple spindles or turrets, which house various bits. A simple rotation of the spindle or the use of CNC tool changers allows for fast and effective transitions in as little time as two seconds as the individual bits need not be removed and replaced.
It is important to carefully consider the capabilities of a facility before the onset of drilling operations. Bit availability, production rates, material capabilities and thread forming may all vary considerably among CNC drilling operations. Highly trained machinists can provide expert perspective on the feasibility and efficiency of an intended line of production.
CAD and CAM software among other programs also help to develop design schematics, which are then translated into computer code for use with CNC machines. When materials are loaded onto a drill press table or clamped in a press vice, the computer or controller uses this code as a directive for the machinery. A series of commands are performed in sequential order to produce holes or threads of precise and accurate depth, diameter and spacing.
While the process is automated, a trained professional should oversee operations and provide regular maintenance to both the computer system and the drill to ensure continued accuracy and product longevity. Because drilling machines tend to produce waste in powder or dust form, machinery enclosures are often used to contain debris and promote workplace safety and machine utility.
In this capacity it is integral that CNC machine shops comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines as well as International Organization for Standardization regulations ISO 9001:2000, ISO 13485:2003, ISO 14001 and ISO/TS 16848:2002, which relate to and define industry specific quality standards.
CNC Drilling Informational Video