Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines aren’t a recent invention. History records the first machining process was invented in 1751 using a metal frame to hold a workpiece while it was being worked on. Fast forward to 1952 when MIT researchers developed the Cincinnati Milacron Hydrotel, the first true CNC machine. In 1958 the first patent for a “Motor Controlled Apparatus for Positioning Machine Tool” was issued, heralding the modern age of CNC machine design and capability.
Single, dual, and triple axis
The first CNC machines performed a single task using a single tool. What was important was the results of using a CNC machine were much more uniform than anything that had previously been done by hand. Mass production of parts took a giant leap forward when CNC machines that could perform only one function were able to perform two functions on the same workpiece. Of course, that ability evolved into the three-way, or three-axis, CNC machine which could perform three different functions on the same production piece.
Better and better with time
Advances in computer technology made CNC machining even more productive as additional functions, or axis movements, as well as additional CNC tools, were added to the process. CNC machines advanced to the point they could pick a machine tool to use from a toolset, use the tool to perform it’s designated task, and then return the tool to the toolset and pick another tool to perform a different function on the same workpiece. Time and money savings were phenomenal. No longer did it require three or four workstations with workers performing a single machining task to complete a production piece. Everything could be done in a few minutes to precise specifications.
Machines and tools
CNC machines use specialized tools for cutting, drilling, edging, and a dozen other functions. Machining tools have become much more productive due to the introduction of specialized metal alloys used in the design and engineering of the tools. In fact, in today’s world, CNC machine tools make CNC machine tools. Intricate, complex designs in plastic, wood, metal, and every other material is possible by clicking on the keyboard and hitting the Enter button. Computers enable CNC machines to create pieces and to check those creations for quality and specification compliance. Production lines have increased capacity a hundred times over human-controlled machining processes.
The future is now
Sophisticated CNC machines tell their operators when a tool is expected to fail. They can also tell their operators if there is a variance in material being cut by the tools. The art of CNC machining has advanced so far that new systems utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) are being produced, eliminating the need for human supervision or control. CNC machines don’t take days off or call in sick. They don’t require safety training and company orientation meetings. CNC machines can work 24/7/365.
CNC machine maintenance
Because they work without interruption, CNC machinery is an important and valuable asset in every production environment. Due to the importance of CNC machines, maintaining and operating the machines is critical to successful production cycles. While CNC machines may be a marvel of technology, they still require attention and occasionally a repair. CNC parts and service is a specialized trade requiring advanced training. Due to the constant evolution of CNC technology and the applications of that technology, it’s important to keep CNC technician training up-to-date.
CNC machine support
The acceptance and advancement of CNC machines in the 21st Century has been explosive. New programming and applications make it possible to create any number of production pieces utilizing the latest 5-axis CNC machinery. Interior elliptical cuts that hollow out material were unheard of 10 years ago and now they are commonplace machining capabilities. With this capability comes the need to ensure CNC machines are operating at peak efficiency at all times. CNC machine manufacturers provide specialized training enabling technicians to quickly diagnose and repair any operating problems.
Quality service and support for CNC machines is essential to achieve production success. CNC parts and tools are specialized components, so it is always a good idea to investigate the resources available to support any CNC machine before purchasing. We provide parts and service for virtually any model of CNC, so if you’re looking for support, give us a call today!