CNC machining is an evolution to the milling process. This something which uses rotating cutters in order to remove excess materials from a block of material, whether that is wood, metal or plastic. There’s lots of different styles of work which use this process, as well as a host of machining who use this as their primary function. Most commonly though, this is used for creating precision made parts to a specific size and shape requirement which is dictate by use. |
The tolerance of CNC machining is incredible. As the machines can be almost entirely automated, there is little room for human error except in the initial planning and programming stages. Errors will only occur if there is a problem with the metal being used, if the tool has become damaged in some way, or if proper maintenance isn’t being carried out. These machines or ‘mills’ as they are often referred to as, are now part of machining centres where almost all functions are carried out automatically including changing tools, control, coolants and more. Multitasking CNC machining is incredibly impressive as these machines are able to carry out a wide variety of highly complex and extraordinarily delicate work which would take someone a huge amount of time to carry out manually. Turning and milling can now be carried out by the same machines in the same space, which means the cost of manufacture is greatly reduced.
CNC machining mills have the ability to work from a number of different angles, giving them greater freedom. They can be used to engrave or create relief sculptures (‘2.5D’), as well as to create entire objects using their primary turning and milling functionality.
CNC machining is used by a vast array of tools because it is so useful as well as hugely accurate. The more complex of these machines consist of two or more axes in addition to the three basic axes you would expect to find. This means that the materials can be completely rotated, so asymmetric or eclectic turning can be carried out. Even the tool itself can be tilted in order to increase and improve existing functionality. This means that almost any conceivable geometric, no matter how seemingly complex, can be created quickly and with relative ease – although there will need to be an incredibly skilled programmer who is controlling the machine, or CAM programming in order to run them successfully.
Joseph works for Howarth Engineering, which specialises in CNC machining. When he is not at work, he enjoys writing articles and blogs on different tips to do with CNC engineering.
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