What Is CNC Machining?

At American Precision Industries, we understand that those unfamiliar with the manufacturing industry may not fully comprehend what some of the terms we commonly use mean. While we remained committed to providing outstanding precision machining services, we also want to make our work more accessible to everyone. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at one aspect of our business: CNC Machining.

What Is CNC Machining?

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is a process used in the manufacturing sector that utilizes computers to control machine tools. While a variety of machinery are controllable through the use of CNC, common tools include grinders, routers, mills and lathes.

While a typical office PC may seem to operate the tools, CNC machining computers require advanced control consoles and software to provide the precision necessary to meet the high-quality standards required in our industry. During the CNC machining process, machine tools function through numerical control. A customized computer program is created for the object being crafted and the computer is programmed with G-code – a type of language understood by CNC machines – that controls all relevant features, such as speed, location, coordination and feed rate. With CNC programming, the computer can precisely control both velocity and positioning. Both plastic and metal components can be crafted using CNC machining technology.

How CNC Machining Works

To begin the CNC machining process, a 2-demensional or 3-demensional CAD drawing is created. Next, G-code is created that allows the CNC machine to understand what it needs to do. The operator will load the program into the machine, and then run a test operation to ensure the programming was successful. The trial run is typically referred to as “cutting air,” and ranks as a vital step because any programming mistakes with tool position or speed could result in a poorly crafted part or even damage to the CNC tool.

CNC machining offers a variety of advantages. In addition to providing better precision compared to manually operated machines, the manufacturing process can be repeated over and over with the same level of guaranteed precision. Because CNC machining offers an incredible level of precision, the process can create complex shapes that would be nearly impossible to recreate using manually operated machines. As a result, CNC machining is used in the manufacture of a variety of complex three-dimensional shapes.

For students who have an interest in CNC machining, a background in mechanical drafting, industrial arts and mathematics are all useful skills to possess.

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