It’s not often the majority of us think about the skill it takes to engineer or manufacture the parts needed to make the machines which serve us in a variety of ways. The fact is that many of the machines which make our lives easier every day are made up of parts that started out as being custom-made. Many of today’s parts are made through the process of computer-guided machining. Even this requires meticulous attention to the details that go into making each part.
In the world of precision CNC Machining, the CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. The computer controls the four main processes of each machine: cutting, milling or grating, turning and electrical discharge machining. The use of computers in the machining process helps with more than just the painstaking formation of the finished product. One benefit of using computer is that each process can be checked thoroughly for any geometry errors that would cause problems. Once that check is complete, the computer can plot out the coordinates that will create the toolpath for the model. Human machinists then check the model to ensure it’s what the client needs before they make any more.
Getting It Done
Each of the five common types of precision CNC machines has a different role to fill. Lathes and turning machines clamp the raw material or part to be worked onto a main spindle. Then the spindle turns, allowing the cutting tool to move around and shape the finished product. A milling machine is used to make the slots, holes and shapes in a part that will enable it to be used. Laser machines use different wattage lasers to cut or etch the material into its final shape. Electrical discharge machining uses electric sparks to erode the workpiece. At temperatures exceeding 20,000o Celsius, plasma machining essentially melts fragments from the raw material.
Machined parts play a big role in how smoothly the machines we use operate.