Today’s CNC machining has made it possible to produce and manufacture objects up to a hundred times the speed that was available just a few decades ago. The first computer numerical machine was officially created in the 1950s. Prior to the lathe becoming computerized, the first evidence of lathe-like machining dates all the way back to 1300 BC in ancient Egypt. Minor advances from ancient times in machining have occurred over the centuries, but CNC creation and advancement within the last 100 years have formed the contemporary knowledge base used by production and manufacturing industries today. CNC manufacturing today is a critical component of nearly all manufacturing processes, allowing anything to be produced quickly and in bulk while reducing the amount of labor that was needed during the early years of the industrial age.
Today, we will explore the foundational concepts of CNC machining from digital design to finished product. The most basic description of a CNC machine is a motorized maneuverable tool (and often a motorized maneuverable platform) which is both controlled by a computer, according to specific input instructions. Instructions are delivered to a CNC machine in the form of a sequential program of machine control instructions such as G-code and M-code and then executed. This article will broaden your knowledge and scope of the CNC processes and set you up to understand our manufacturing processes.
Interesting fact: At Caprice MachineWorks, we can go from digital design to product in sometimes just minutes!
What is CNC Machining?
CNC machining is a manufacturing process used in many production industries that utilize raw materials to produce a custom-designed part. It is subtractive in that it typically employs computerized controls and machine tools to remove layers of material from a stock piece, known as the blank or workpiece. Programming codes are used by a computer that directs machine tools to subtract or “chip at” a raw material. This process continues until the machine forms the designed part that was input by the machinist.
How Does CNC Machining Work?
CNC machining relies on all intricate parts of the machine, the computer and its software, and a machinist to input accurate information to form a part exactly to specification. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is the software used by the machinist to communicate directly with the machine tools. CAD software produces the 2D and 3D models for the machine to know what the final part looks like. The computerized machine tools perform the required calculations to remove the material and form the final part, according to the model created by the CAD software.
Now we will break down the 4 distinct stages of this complex process below:
- Create a CAD Design/Model – The 2D or 3D model of the final part needs to be created before CNC machining can start. CAD software allows you to render any parts you want by entering the technical specifications. There are many CAD software platforms available and creating CAD models is not difficult. However, some parts may require a more in-depth knowledge of CAD in order to be produced. That is where an experienced machinist comes into play. Our machinists at Caprice MachineWorks have decades of experience using various CAD software.
- Convert the CAD File to A CNC Program – CNC machines do not directly understand CAD files and their language. The machine only perceives movement according to specific coordinates. For this reason, the CAD file needs to be converted to a CNC-compatible format, called G code. Through this process, the CNC program analyzes the CAD file and generates the codes required for the process. Most CAD software can write the G code for the file by configuring the settings when you save the file. In other cases, Computer Aided Manufacturing software is required to convert from CAD design to G code. There are other free tools that accomplish the conversion, but none have the vast capabilities of functionality like CAM software does.
- Configure the CNC Machine – The CNC machine must be configured correctly before starting the manufacturing process. There are many setup processes to go through to configure a CNC machine for the operation of a specific part. All settings and conditions of the machine must be evaluated, the workpiece fixed properly on the machine, and the dies adjusted accordingly.
- Execute Operation – Once setup and configuration are complete, the CNC program can be run and machine operation begins. This step is executed right on the display panel of the machine. The CNC program controls all actions of the machine. The machine will continue until the finished product is complete or it is stopped by the operator.
One of the most common types of CNC machining processes is milling. So much so, that people sometimes use machining and milling in place of each other. The process of CNC milling uses rotating cutting tools to remove parts of the workpiece.
The milling (cutting) tool is attached to a spindle that rotates. CNC milling machines can have the ability to execute three or more axes machining.
Interesting Fact: At Caprice MachineWorks, we can produce products using 3-axis and 4-axis machining.
The CNC turning process involves rotation on a single axis to remove parts of the workpiece. The material of the workpiece is swiveled on a chuck and rotated. Next, the cutting tool is supplied to the workpiece to remove materials at a high speed.
Turning creates an accelerated production process, but it removes and wastes a lot of excess material compared to other machining processes.
In addition to milling and turning, there are a variety of other machining processes out there. Caprice MachineWorks can execute the following additional machining services at our shop:
Contact us to get a quote today!
Benefits of CNC Machining
CNC machining is considered a modern-day marvel. Below is a brief overview of the benefits of CNC machining.
One of the main reasons CNC manufacturing has spread so swiftly is because of its production speed. The process of production is sped up exponentially with CNC machining as limitations of human labor are cut out. The very reason we harness technology is that machines are faster at producing than humans are. However, the skill level needs of technicians have also increased. Fortunately, at Caprice MachineWorks our machinists have over 50 years of combined experience operating CNC machines.
Precision and Accuracy
CNC machining capabilities are extremely precise and accurate. For this reason, they are often used in production for industries that require high levels of product safety, such as the aviation and automotive industries.
We work with a variety of industries including but not limited to:
- Oil & gas
- Concrete & asphalt
- Lumber & forestry
- Pulp & paper
- And more!
CNC machining is highly versatile, and you can control many components of the production process such as material, cost, time, volume, and precision. Caprice MachineWorks believes in time and cost-effective manufacturing, and we machine a variety of engineering-grade materials such as:
- Stainless Steel
- Low Carbon Steel
- Hard Rubber
- And more!
CNC machining is a useful and effective advancement in production and manufacturing. Caprice MachineWorks is one of many companies that brings this highly valuable service to people and businesses that need it. In our shop, you can be assured that your parts are produced at the hands of the most highly skilled machinists. We use state-of-the-art equipment and the highest grade of engineering materials to bring your products to life. Your job will never be overlooked or lost in our flexible manufacturing systems, and our quality inspection process ensures your parts will be produced EXACTLY to your required specifications. We serve Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia!