Posted on: July 16, 2018, | By Fancy, WayKen Marketing Manager
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) prototype machining is a complex machining process which interprets any CAD/3D model that is uploaded to the system and uses precise cutting tools to create the model exactly as required, down to the smallest dimension. CNC machining uses conventional tools such as lathes, cutters, grinders, lasers etcetera and uses advanced computerized programs to shape the tool/prototype without any need of human interference.
How CNC Prototype Machining Works
Machining involves the conversion of a raw material into a finished product by means of a controlled process. CNC (Computer Numerical Control) relies on computer controlled technology such as Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) or Computer Aided Design (CAD. There are multiple computer programs available in the market that helps produce high precision cuts that reduce time and labor through the use of special coding language ‘G – Codes’. The CNC system works by numerically defining a 3 – axis grid in the X, Y, and Z planes. The software instructs the CNC machine through the use of codes to control and direct the cutting tool of the machine. The 2D CAM system involves CAD tools that let professionals design virtual products or parts of machines. The utmost precision along with the ease of use had made CNC machining a popular choice in manufacturing industries along the globe.
Applications and techniques
Many of the CNC machines manufactured are for multiple purposes and they have the ability to allow a certain degree of freedom to their users. That said, most CNC machines are used for prototyping instead of manufacturing. The most common form of CNC machining is milling.
They use three axes to operate while milling adds the fourth axis whereas the fifth axis provides pivots and sixth with flexibility so that when needed the piece can be flipped over.
Almost all fields today use CNC prototyping machining to produce high quality, rapid plastic and metal that is sold to all markets. CNC machines are also used to make aluminum and other prototypes. The CNC lathe machines enable high speed and precision. For complex internal bores, the pieces are turned over and the design carried out. Some companies require a large number of the same product and so CNC rapid prototyping is used according to the demands. Many different types of raw materials are used in these machining processes such as ABS, Nylon, Polycarbonate, Ultem, PVC, Polypropylene, etc.
There are many techniques used for CNC machining and the first is ‘turning’ in which the piece is fixed and the tool moves to cut the piece as it spins. Then milling which differs because the workpiece is held stationary and the cutting tool rotates on a spindle.to make the surface of a piece smooth the surface grinder is used. The grinder is a spinning disk covered with coarseness. EDM makes pockets, holes and molds that plastic injection and pressure die casting. Wire EDM is an important technique that makes make circular or semi-circular features on hard steel using copper conductor and electric voltage. Cylindrical Grinding is a combination of turning and surface grinding.
Why is CNC Prototyping Preferred Over Traditional Machining Methods?
Most industries use the traditional lathe & milling machines, cutters and grinders. But in recent times this has changed and according to a survey conducted in 2016, CNC high precision machine tool sales are expected to account for around 24% of China's total machine tool sales & that Japan purchases around 66% of all CNC prototype machines produced. The numerous benefits of CNC machining, such as low space, faster production, easier testing and design iterations, environmental sustainability, and countless others, act as substantially compelling reasons China being the largest manufacturer in the world is also investing a lot in automation and other high – tech solutions for its manufacturing industry. With a huge percentage of its GDP directed towards research and development in the sector, China aims to retain its global standing and attract new business opportunities.
Economic benefits of CNC prototype machining
Apart from benefits such as increased speed and precise control, there are several economic benefits of shifting to the CNC technology. With CNC Prototype Machining, waste can be significantly reduced which affects the cost of raw materials. Similarly, multiple CNC Prototypes can be churned out with a press of a button. Finally, CNC Prototype Machining allows users the freedom to replicate completely identical parts of constant build quality. For companies with a high production quota, this ability is extremely useful as consistency is one of the most important requirements of clients.
CNC Machining and China’s Major Influence in Advancements
With the onslaught of high demands for CNC prototypes, some countries have taken on the mission to make use of this technology for the global market. China has the most glaring and noticeable influence in the global market. This article states that in 2016, China produced 282,900 CNC machines which shows a 5.7% increase in production from the previous year. This is also highlighted by the fact that China is the largest manufacturer of CNC machines. According to The Global and China CNC Machine Tool Industry Report, 2017-2021, East China and Northeast China together seized about 73.6% of CNC metal-cutting machine tool market in 2016, while central China grabbed 88% of the CNC metal – forming market.
The above mentioned facts are a definite indicator of China’s resolve to use the techniques of CNC Prototype Machining in order to keep its global standing as the largest manufacturer in the world. With the complete adoption of CNC Prototype Machining in China, the overall perception of China’s manufacturing industry in the world market will be revolutionized as more products will be delivered in a shorter time at a lower rate and the quality would remain the same throughout.
Every single day, the requirements of the manufacturing industry are growing more complex and engineers have to keep up with these requirements by increasing their set of skills. With their increased endurance, higher tolerance, uniform production, better safety and maintenance, and various other benefits, CNC Prototype Machining is surely revolutionizing the face of the manufacturing industry. China, as the global leader in this sector, has invested a significant amount in developing its production capabilities. Whether it is the development of newer CNC Machines, with the latest features, or the mass production of prototypes and assemblies China is staying ahead of its competition by providing a comfortable avenue for the development of this technology.