What are CNC Machines and how are they used?

The CNC machine has been around for quite a few years now. They have retained their remarkable allure for those who want to use them for manufacturing or other purposes. They are not going anywhere anytime soon. The venerable CNC machine is growing in use around the world and will continue to do so. From machine parts and more, they are an excellent addition to the manufacturing industry.

What is a CNC machine?

The acronym CNC stands for “Computer Numerical Control”. While having different sizes based on the materials being modified, they basically are a machine with a turning bit controlled by a computer. They can be as large as a car, with sliding doors on the side. They can also be small enough to fit on a desktop. Whatever the use case is, the basic goal is to provide the user with a very accurate way to produce or modify parts. These are usually metal parts, but plastics and other materials can be produced as well. The machining they do is called “milling”. With the computer controlling the process, exact replicas can be reproduced over and over, making them excellent choices for manufacturing.

A CNC machine can be used for various purposes

From creating aircraft parts to making children’s toys, a CNC machine is useful for many goals. The US government has strict tolerances on parts for the US Air Force. One way to be within these tolerances and still produce a multitude of parts is to use a CNC machine. In this case, the rails for the frames of large aircraft are reproduced from billets of aluminum. The aluminum rail is inserted into the CNC machine and the process of forming it into an aircraft begins with the push of a start button. Under the scrutiny of the machine operator, the part is produced by having material removed at strategic regions. Bolt holes, locks, and other characteristics are machined out of the billet until the frame of the aircraft takes shape. Likewise, children’s toys can be produced out of blocks of plastic in much the same way. The CNC machine takes much of the drudgery and time out of manually producing the toy and maintains a very high level of accuracy while doing so.

Producing difficult parts many times is the strength of a CNC machine

Another use of the automated power of a CNC machine is for the creation of complicated parts. The CNC machine is the perfect tool to make this happen. Getting around tight corners can be a problem for human hands. The motorized bit of a CNC machine has no such problem. Three, four, and five-axis control are easily obtainable with one of these useful machines. Small crevices on the inside of a metal part are easily made by machines. This is not true for human hands. Not only that, a milling machine under manual control is going to be slower than one under the control of a computer.

Plastics, wood, and metals are formed with a CNC

Carpenters use wood routers to produce beautiful artistic patterns in doors and other articles. A CNC machine can do the same. The router is one of the closest cousins to the CNC machine. The router has a rotating bit that can form materials under the control of human hands. The same can be said for the CNC machine, except it is under the control of a computer. Plastic products are formed with the same ease as wood products. Switching over from forming metal, plastic, or wood simply takes a change of the bit in the chuck of the CNC and a change of the program in the computer that controls it. This is an easy and quick process that takes only seconds.