CNC machining stands for “computer numerical control” machining. It is a relatively new process in the world of machining which allows for increased efficiency through higher levels of automation and by allowing the machine and it’s computer controls to do all the work. While CNC machines are expensive and complicated, they quickly pay for themselves by reducing the workload and preventing errors.
The first major advantage of CNC machining is that it improves automation, removing the need of an operator for all but a few parts of the work. CNC machines can be left unattended for hours or even days if necessary, allowing operators to focus on other tasks. This also allows for a company to retain fewer operators, thereby saving on overhead. By removing the operator, safety is also increased, since should there be a jam or other potentially dangerous machining error, the operator will not be holding the tool and the only thing damaged will be the tool itself. CNC machines can also work much faster than human machinists, since they are faster, stronger, and do not need to take breaks. They can also be run late at night, when most of the workers have gone home, since machines do not need to worry about being sleepy or getting paid overtime.
The second big advantage to CNC machining is that it produces an exact result every single time. Even the best human operator will have minor variations between finished results, whereas a CNC machine will produce exactly the same result each and every time it is run. This is very important in the modern world of standardized and interchangeable parts, where a single defective cut can make an entire machine wholly unusable. All that is necessary is for a single program to be developed and placed into the machine. Then the machine can toil away at however many work pieces are needed, producing an exact replica down to thousandths of an inch each and every time.
The third big advantage to CNC machining is the flexibility of the machine itself. While humans are much more flexible and trainable than machines, a CNC machine can be completely reprogrammed in a matter of hours to produce a completely different product. It is thus possible to refer back to old programs or install new programs when a different work piece is required. This gives CNC machines a big advantage over other machines, since they can quickly shift to producing a completely different product without the installation of many new parts or a major overhaul of key components. This also ensures that CNC machines can keep up with customer demand, since they can very quickly shift from making a part that is in surplus to a part that is lacking should a need arise.
To learn more, check out this great resource for CNC Machining.