In 1952, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John C. Parsons developed the first CNC machine, made with light bulbs, a binary code and a punched tape. It was the first numerical control (NC) machine, which had an electromechanical part similar to the machine tools already in use at the time, but could operate automatically.
Since then, CNC machining has become increasingly popular in industrial workshops around the world, particularly in Quebec.
No wonder HARtech’s industrial machining department knows a thing or two about CNC machines. Here is our comprehensive guide to this amazing technology.
What is CNC machining?
CNC machining (for “computer numerical control”) is a technique that automates and controls a machine tool using a computer. With very little human input, these machines can perform very precise and complex operations on a workpiece.
Today, CNC is widely used in industrial companies. It is used:
- In many industrial machining processes such as turning, milling or drilling
- For processing various materials, including metal, wood, plastic, foam or glass
- In a variety of industries, including some with particularly demanding production requirements, such as prototyping for aerospace parts
What types of software are used in CNC machining?
The CNC machining process uses software applications that can be divided into 3 categories:
- CAD software
- CAM software
- CAE software
1. Computer-aided design (CAD) software
Computer-aided design (CAD) software is a program used to draw and produce 2D or 3D renderings of solid parts and surfaces. It also provides documentation and technical specifications associated with the part.
CAD software is becoming increasingly sophisticated. It can be used to determine the characteristics of a part, evaluate the quality of an existing part design, simulate part design, or provide design data to manufacturers and shops.
2. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software
Simply put, CAM software programs write a digital file that the machine will process.
The software must be set up to operate the CNC machine that will then manipulate the materials to produce the required part with the greatest precision.
3. Computer-aided engineering (CAE) software
This is software used by engineers during the pre-processing, analysis and post-processing phases of the product development and simulation process.
These are precise assistance tools used throughout the product creation stages, such as design, simulation, planning, manufacturing, diagnosis and repair, to help evaluate and modify the product design.
Today, a single program can even combine aspects of CAD, CAM and CAE software. This type of software can manage the entire manufacturing process, from design to production, including an accurate analysis of the machined part.
What are the advantages of CNC machining?
We have already mentioned some of the advantages of CNC machining, but there are others. Computer technology makes it possible to work on highly complex designs that are difficult to machine on conventional machine tools. This advance has led to the development of high precision components for a variety of industries, including aerospace, marine, rail, and aviation.
CNC machining provides a significant improvement in precision, reducing errors and improving productivity. And by drastically reducing human input, the risk of workplace accidents is low. The cost savings from a reduction in metal waste are also significant. Finally, some machines are equipped with an automatic chip removal system, which allows for the cleaning, reuse and recycling of materials.
Contact HARtech if you need machining specialists
You now know the CNC machining process, the different possible operations and the advantages of this technique.
However, it is not always that simple to use, and manual machining processes can sometimes work best. Each project is different and should be reviewed by specialists to determine the best machining method. At HARtech, we are available to help you if you have industrial projects in Quebec: please feel free to contact us by phone at (514) 422 – 8282 or fill out our contact form if you have a question or would like assistance from our industrial machining company.