CNC – computer numerical control – machining is widely used in industry these days, thanks to its unwavering accuracy and ability to reproduce items precisely. Further benefits include the elimination of human error in the manufacturing process – CNC is an automated manufacturing method – and faster production and development times. The cost-savings inherent in CNC processes are being seen across many different areas of industry and commerce. How to get the most out of CNC machining?
There are several things that can be done to ensure CNC cutting machines are utilised to their most efficient level, and these start at the design stage. We will briefly talk about some of the ways that CNC machining can be made as cost effective and efficient as possible, so let’s start at the design stage.
CNC requires a computer designed plan to be fed into the machine, and it is interpreted as a series of numerical instructions. Designers work with computer aided design software (CAD) and this is where care needs to be taken. With an automated manufacturing process, the mistakes may occur at the design stage. Simplicity is the key. The basic idea is to design an item – whatever it may be – that requires the fewest manufacturing processes. This speeds up the machining by a large amount. Think about eliminating anything that is not necessary. Look carefully at the proposed design and see if anything is superfluous. If so, get rid of it!
Choice of Material
Whether you are machining metal or plastic – or any other materials – it is worth remembering that some are easier to machine using CNC than others. For example, stainless steel requires more machining to reach the same point than aluminium (and there are different grades of all metals that also have different properties) so if you can make a product that will do the job in aluminium, you will save time and – as a result – reduce costs. Check out the costs of different metals, too, as this can save you even more.
Straight to Production
One of the benefits of CNC machining is that, thanks to its speed and accuracy, it is possible to bypass the prototype stage if you believe you have the design right. This is especially true where very simple items are being produced. This cuts out a lot of time and reduces costs further. It might be best to produce a prototype for evaluation in the case of more complex items, but as this can be done very quickly it’s commercially acceptable.
These are a few ways in which you can implement routines to get the absolute best out of CNC machining. The simple fact is that once you have a design programmed into the machine it will be there later for repeat use. The set-up times for your manufacturing processes will be drastically reduced alongside the actual production time, so you get the best of both worlds. Pay attention at the design stage, and you should be ready to go!