Computer numerically controlled machines allow for the fast, efficient and accurate production of identical parts with little human intervention. While the workforce may be significantly reduced, it is important that all operations be supervised by trained machinists who must monitor, calibrate and maintain the machines on a regular basis to ensure continued performance.
CNC drilling, milling, cutting and grinding can all be completed in a fraction of the time that would be necessary for manual operations to produce parts with the superior accuracy and precision required by industries including aerospace, avionics, automotive, agriculture, food and chemical processing, pharmaceutical, military and defense. To accommodate the growing need for computerized machining, most machine shops and mass production facilities operate CNC components on a daily basis.
Individual machines are capable of performing up to 400 different tasks depending on the specific configuration. Other systems operate in a cell, or series of machines that work together to complete a part. It is important to consider these capabilities as well as the production volume and material and dimensional capacities of a given facility prior to the onset of production. CNC manufacturing continues to advance as innovative computer software increases accessibility and availability.
Because CNC manufacturing requires the use of computer software, the first step of production is to create a computer model or code for the material to be formed or processed. Computer assisted design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and photo imaging software programs are frequently used. The schematics and measurements of these designs are then converted into a computerized language or code, which may be read by the CNC machine.
While G code is universal, many companies use application-specific codes or even conversational programming to dictate the behavior of the equipment. The information allows the machine to read the location, diameter and depth of a feature as well as activate a series of commands that are performed in a sequential manner. The final product is highly precise and easily duplicated. Most CNC manufacturing facilities have the capabilities to produce items made from glass, ceramics, metals, wood and even precious stones.
CNC machinists offer expert perspective on the material, design and efficiency of a product in order to ensure high quality production for any industrial, commercial or consumer CNC application. Although it is not essential, many CNC service providers are certified through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills while all machine shops should comply with the regulations set forth by the International Organization for Standardization or ISO. ISO 9001:2000, ISO 13485:2003, ISO 14001 and ISO/TS 16848:2002 specifically relate to and define industry specific CNC quality standards.