The Basics of CNC Machine Tools

To most of us, CNC sounds foreign, but equipment belonging to the CNC category are a daily thing for those belonging to manufacturing and fabrication industries. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control which has been used since the 1970’s at the onset of computers. That is how it got its name, except that it was first called only NC or numerical control when it was first introduced.

The CNC is programmed to reduce manual intervention in a certain fabrication process, thus reducing production time and wastage, thereby resulting to increased production efficiency. To illustrate this, metal preparation using conventional tools would require the operator to manually bore hole on the metal using a drill press. But before he can do it, he has to secure the metal in place, select the desired speed for rotation of the drill press, activate the spindle and manually drive the drill into the metal. That takes a lot of steps and errors and accidents are bound to happen at each step of the process.

The CNC machine simplifies all these work for the operator. With the CNC equivalent of the drill press, he only has to position the metal in its place, activate the spindle, set the controls and the machine does the rest. It is very well like the automated ways of doing things. Everything that an operator is required to do with the conventional machine tools is programmable with CNC machines.

Another advantage of a CNC machine is being able to produce consistent and accurate work pieces. Once the programming controls had been set, the CNC machine can produce thousand of identical pieces in a short span of time. This is almost impossible if done manually.

CNC machines are also flexible since processes are programmed. You can run a specific program for one piece, save it and recall it again the next time that piece is to be reproduced. These machines are also easy to set-up, thus, allowing you to meet your deadlines faster.

All CNC machines have motion control, whether linear or rotary. This is one of the things that they have in common. The path or direction that the machine follows is called axis. The more axes the machine has, the more complex it is.

Common industrial examples of CNC tools are welders, drills, grinders, routers and lathes. But it is noteworthy to know that are even home tools that belong to the CNC category. These are electronic paper cutters, quilting and embroidery machines and yes, your computer printer which operates on the X axis only.

Without us knowing it, some tools that we encounter as we do about our respective businesses may be CNC machines too. The use of these machines is not only exclusive to the metal industry but in large range endeavors as well, especially those that require mass production of articles. As the demand increases, the need for producers to meet these demands becomes more urgent as well. But thanks to CNC machines, production processes are made easier, faster and safer.