What is CNC Milling and How Does It Work?

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Tech

When digital data, a computer system, and a computer-aided machine are used in combination with one another to automate, control and monitor the movements of a specific machine, this is what computer numerical control is or CNC. This can be used with milling machines, welders, grinders, lasers, cutters, robots, and many other types of machines.

CNC milling, specifically, performs the action of cutting through the use of a cylindrical cutting tool that rotates on multiple axes. Generally speaking, a CNC milling machine will have anywhere from three-five axes, those being on the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal planes.

These allow specific shapes, cuts, slots, and holes to be made in the material that manual tooling techniques are unable to make.

The CNC milling machine will have a combination of three essential elements which include the cutting apparatus, a high-speed spinning tool, and an appropriate feed rate.

In order for a part to get to its finished form, it must start either as a pre-machined part, a cast or a forging, or be a solid block of material. A program then must be generated manually or from computer-aided software like CAD/CAM software. The program design is then translated into the machine’s controls through customized software codes.

Why is CNC Used for Projects?

The main reason that CNC milling is used in projects is due to the high production rate, accuracy and speed advantages that it has over conventional techniques.

Although it may cost more upfront to buy and operate it actually has lower costs due to the precision and efficiency it has, resulting in fewer labor hours for operators. Plus it is used in almost every industry that requires any type of grinding, drilling, cutting, contouring, milling, shearing, tapping, shaping, welding, threading, and turning.

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Advantages of using CNC machining include

Versatility:

it can create virtually any component required, permitting that the design can be created in computer-aided software.

Low Maintenance:

the G-code based software will automatically update and the only thing that needs to be changed are the cutting implements at regular intervals. It also only requires light cleaning.

Uniform Product:

all outputs will match exactly, ensuring that the prototype comes out to exact specifications.

Reliable Endurance:

they do not need to stop unless they need repairs or maintenance done to them.

High Production and Scalability:

once the design specifications have been inputted into the machine, it will consistently output huge quantities of the design and can be scaled up with design tweaks.

More Capability:

they can produce any type of shape, texture, and size required.

In addition to the above, one skilled machinist can operate several different autonomous CNC milling machines at once, ensuring that there are lower labor costs that can be passed onto other areas of the business.

Finally, the machines can work with a wide range of materials including fiberglass, titanium, wood, aluminum, brass, copper, foam, steel, and even plastic.

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