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Everything You Need to Know About CNC Machining


CNC machining is a manufacturing process where computers run programs that control how the machine will manufacture parts. The term CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control.  The process can be used to control various sophisticated machinery, from grinders and lathes to routers and mills. 

The CNC machining from Star Rapid makes it easy to accomplish three-dimensional tasks in a set of prompts. The CNC process supersedes the confines of manual control, where operators are supposed to prompt and guide the commands of machining tools via buttons, levers, and wheels. The CNC system may resemble a regular set of computer components to a common man, but the consoles and software programs used in CNC machining makes it different from all other types of computation. 

CNC Machining Setup

Before the operator runs the CNC program, he must prepare the CNC machine for operation. These preparations include affixing the workpiece directly into the machine, into machine vices or similar work-holding devices, and attaching the appropriate tooling, like end mills and drill bits to the proper machine components. Once the machine is completely set up, the operator can run the CNC program. 

CNC Operation Execution

The CNC acts as instructions for the CNC machine; it submits machine commands dictating the tooling actions and movements to the machine’s integrated computer, operating and manipulating the machine tooling. Starting the program prompts the CNC machine to start the CNC machining process, and the software program guides the machine in the entire process as it carries out the necessary machine operations to produce a product or a custom-design part.

CNC Machine Programming

In CNC, machines are operated via numerical control whereby a software program is designed to control an object. The CNC machining language is referred to as G-code and is written to control different behaviors of a corresponding machine, like feed rate, speed, and coordination.  CNC makes it possible to pre-program the speed and position of machine tool functions, and run them vita software in repetitive cycles, with minimal involvement from human operators. Due to these abilities, the process has been adopted by various manufacturing sectors, and it is especially essential in the areas of plastic and metal productions.  

Types of CNC Machines

CNC machining has come a long way.  The first numerical control machines dates to the 1950s when motors were first used to control the movement of pre-existing tools. As technologies developed, the mechanisms were improved with analog computers, and eventually with digital computers that led to the invention of CNC machining.

The majority of today’s CNC machines are entirely electronic. The most common CNC-operated processes include laser cutting, hole-punching, and ultrasonic welding. The following are the most frequently used machines in CNC systems. 

CNC Mills

CNC Milling is a machining process that employs rotating multipoint cutting tools to remove material from the workpiece. CNC mills can run on programs that comprise number and letter-based prompts that guide pieces across different distances. The programming employed for a mill machine could be based on either G-code or a unique language developed by the manufacturing team. A mill consists of a three-axis system [X, Y, and Z]. 

CNC Drilling

Drilling is a machining process that employs multi-point drill bits to produce cylindrical holes in the workpiece. When it comes to CNC drilling, the CNC machine typically feeds the rotating drill bit perpendicularly to the plane of the workpiece’s surface, which produces vertically-aligned holes with diameters equal to the diameter of the drill. Operational capabilities of the drilling process include countersinking, reaming, tapping, and counterboring. 

CNC Turning

Turning is a machining process that employs a single-point cutting tool to remove material from the rotating workpiece. In CNC turning, the computer numerical control machine, mainly a turning machine or lathe, feeds the cutting tool in a linear motion along the surface of the rotating workpiece. This removes materials around the circumference until the desired diameter is achieved, to produce cylindrical parts with internal and external features such as tapers, threads, and slots. Operational capabilities of the CNC turning process include facing, boring, thread cutting, and grooving.

Further Uses Of CNC Machines

Apart from the above machines, additional tools and components used within the numerical computer numerical system include:

  • Wood routers
  • Laser cutters
  • 3D printers
  • Glass cutters
  • Embroidery machines
  • Cylindrical grinders