Automation in manufacturing is an incredibly efficient way to produce goods. This approach has become more common than ever with the advent of advanced technologies in recent years. One concept under this umbrella that makes machinery work properly is known as computer numerical control.
The Basics of CNC
Computer numerical control, commonly abbreviated as CNC, is the concept of how machine tools operate based on how the tools are programmed to function. Specific coded instructions are send to what is called an internal microprocessor within the control system of a machine tool. This microprocessor essentially functions as a mini computer that can receive information. This internal processor accepts the informational instructions it receives, interprets how they are meant to be implemented, and then physically performs a desired function for a machine. The big benefit of CNC is that these pre-coded functions can be much more specific – and performed far more precisely – than what someone can manually do with a machine tool.
Of course, computer numerical control is primarily intended to help automate processes, making them more efficient and reducing – or even eliminating – the number of manual laborers involved in performing them. With that said, CNC is often utilized with computer-aided design (CAD for short) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs. Commonly used CNC machines include lathes, mills, routers, plasma cutters, water jet cutters, and grinders.
These CAD and CAM programs design and produce a computer file. This file is then interpreted to extract all functions and commands necessary to operate a machine via a post-processor. This coded information is then loaded into a machine to begin the production process. As any component of a machine may require the use of several different tools, including saws, drills, or other tools along these lines, newer CNC machines combine multiple tools into one area – or cell. In other cases, multiple machines are used in conjunction with an external controller, along with a human or robot that moves the component from one machine to another. Either way, the sequence of coded instructions needed to produce a machine part is highly automated, and this process produces a machine part that closely resembles the initial computer-aided design.
Importance of CNC in Manufacturing
Computer numerical control is an extremely high-tech and important process in today’s world of manufacturing. It takes skilled engineers to program the files used by the microprocessor within a machine tool to make a machine function properly and efficiently. It’s amazing how quickly various goods can be produced, but CNC technology is an important backbone that makes all the difference in these processes.