For many years if you needed a part made in a machine shop, it was created by a machine to your specs, one part at a time. While the quality of work from a really skilled machinist was great, repeatability could sometimes be an issue. Over time that has changed, and the computerized numerical controlled (CNC) machines have taken the place of the machinist that built you part from scratch. But what are the benefits of using CNC machining?
Out With The Old
It is not impossible to get machine work done one piece at a time these days, but it is becoming harder to find a machinist that still works that way. The biggest reason that the shift has been made to CNC machining is the time frame. A CNC machine, once set up, will run all day, doing the same program, over and over and never need a break. And all the while, it is repeating the same quality of finished project over and over. Something that is harder to do by hand. Many machinists are learning CNC machining so that they can continue to keep pace with the industry, while others continue to make parts by hand.
Programming The Work
When you are working with a CNC machine, you do not have to know how to program it yourself. It is better if you can but in many cases, companies running a high volume of parts through a CNC process will have an engineer on staff that can do the final design work on a part using 3d rendering software on the computer then transferring that design into a format that can be used by the CNC machine to produce the part. The machine does the work while the operator makes fine adjustments, inspects the final product and keeps the machine producing work for you. It is important to understand the machine and the programming so that you can make adjustments if needed to keep the parts coming and fitting properly.
Room For Both Processes
One consideration that has to be made is the cost of a CNC machine. The machines you may already have can sometimes be sold at auction, but some shops keep them in place alongside the CNC machine. If you have a good operator that can use the mill or lathe properly, it is sometimes faster for them to make an adjustment to a part on these machines then to program the CNC machine to do it. Other times the only way to do it is with the CNC machine. They both have their place in the shop as long as your machinists have the skills to use both machines.
Contact a company like Aero Mechanism Precision for more information and assistance.