CNC machining is a modern, efficient, and highly automatable manufacturing solution that is used for projects of all shapes and sizes.
Of course, it is not without its caveats and limitations, so the question which businesses need to answer is whether they should be using CNC machining to complete their next project.
Here is a look at the cases in which this technology can have the biggest impact to help you work out if this is the right route to take.
The materials matter
While it is possible to use CNC equipment to work with a number of different materials, more often than not it is preferred for projects in which metal workpieces will take center stage.
Part of the reason for this is that while there are more efficient, speedy ways to produce parts and components using plastic, few alternatives can match CNC milling for tasks involving steel, alloys, and other compatible metals.
The cost of cutting-edge CNC equipment can be high, but as you can find a complete inventory of used units, there is space to make savings if you want to work with metal.
The precision is impeccable
For some projects, tight tolerances are of paramount importance, and so the manufacturing solution you use needs to be able to operate incredibly precisely and create parts that are accurate to within a fractional deviation from the original design.
This explains why CNC machining is often preferred in industries such as aerospace because the computer-controlled nature of this equipment means that it is not prone to the human error or inconsistency that comes with other manufacturing techniques.
The geometry is straightforward
The principles of CNC machining revolve around removing material from a workpiece to create a part of the desired size and shape. This means that, unlike additive manufacturing, quite a lot of waste material is inevitably generated during this process, so the more complex the desired design, the more costly it will be to produce.
Likewise, there are some designs that are simply too complicated to be executed using CNC machining technology. Beyond a certain point, the tooling and machine capabilities fall short, so projects with more straightforward geometry are a better fit for this approach.
The volumes are modest
While CNC machining can be used for production on a large scale, it is more often chosen for projects that involve lower volume runs or even for the creation of entirely unique parts and components on a one-time basis.
Whether for the purposes of prototyping or to fulfill a single order for a specific client, CNC machining can be cost-effective and eminently capable. It is all about making the right calculations before proceeding to determine if this is a worthwhile route for you.
The skilled operators are available
Although CNC equipment can be programmed to carry out complex operations largely automatically, you still need to ensure that you have access to suitably experienced human operators to see this through without hiccups.
If you are planning to invest in CNC machinery for your business, then this is likely something you will take on board and prepare for with training, or by hiring a skilled worker.
By balancing all of these considerations, you should be ready to plot out your next project using CNC machining.