Computerised Numerical Control, or CNC, is a manufacturing process whereby computer software, which has been pre-programmed, commands the movement of machinery and tools within a factory setting.
Introduced into the mainstream in the 1980s, CNC machines combined computers with machine tools and CAD (computer aided design) software to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. A product could be designed and then created by the CNC machine. This resulted in manufactured products that were cut exactly as prearranged by the computer, and every copy was identical to the last. Mass production was born.
Before CNC machining
It’s difficult to think of a world before CNC machining, and nostalgia can make things seem better than they were. But if we take a look at car manufacturing, we can see how far things have come since its introduction. In the ’60s and ’70s cars were still clunky with poor finishes and component parts that had been poorly machined.
Parts were still forced into position on an assembly line, and engines gave up after 100,000 miles, more or less. Slowly the introduction of CNC machining changed all of this. Components parts started to be machine made, and mass production led to improved vehicle performance and reliability. The same applies to other manufactured goods such as household appliances and construction components, etc.
The advantages of CNC machining
Precision components: CNC machining’s precision is able to eliminate human error and achieve accuracy within 1/1000th.
Endurance: CNC machines don’t stop for lunch like humans do. They work around the clock including weekends and holidays meaning they are more productive than conventional human machining.
More Capability: Thanks to advances in technology, CNC machines can now create components that would be impossible with manual machines. Companies such as https://www.parallelprecision.co.uk/cnc-milling are able to offer their bespoke CNC milling service to create any type of component a company is after, no matter how complicated. Even the most talented of engineers are no longer able to do with conventional machines what advanced CNC software can.
Less Labour: One operator can run a host of autonomous CNC machines whilst one programmer loads them with the needed designs. In conventional machining each machine needs at least one operator, in addition to a supervisor, meaning operating costs are a lot higher.