What Is a CNC Machine and How Does It Work?

CNC machines are integral tools in modern manufacturing. Using computer programming inputs, these machines work in tandem with machine shop tools to generate parts and prototypes. If you’re a prototyping or engineering company in Ukiah, CA, read on to discover how CNC machines work and how they can help streamline your machining processes.

What is a CNC machine?

In the mid-20th century, engineering pioneers were looking for a way to automate the industrial production process. During this time, brilliant minds were developing the first computers, and engineers realized that the link between computer technology and machines could become the foundation for modern manufacturing.

The earliest CNC machine used a punch-card computer method to create data points that were fed into a machine. The machine would respond by cutting and shaping a material to match those data points. Today’s CNC machines are a world away from early models. They’re able to create products and parts out of plastics, wood, aluminum, metals and more. Engineers and computer wizards alike are continually developing new digital processes to perfect these machines, greatly improving their efficiency and the quality of products they produce.

How do CNC machines work?

While today’s CNC machine is far different from the early models, they still share some basic components – a command function, a drive motion system and a feedback function. They read digital instructions made on Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. These instructions tell the controller on the machine what it needs to do, and the cutting tools or workpiece are moved and cut accordingly. It completely automates the cutting process, and the result is that better-quality products and components are produced much more quickly than if a manual process were used.

What CNC machine do I need?

There are plenty of considerations to take into account as you decide what machine is best for your needs. Here are just some of the basic types of CNC machines in Ukiah, CA:

  • Lathes: Use this machine if you need your finished product to be symmetrical. It manipulates the workpiece and removes material by bringing the cutting tool in to make the cuts.
  • Routers: These machines cut in three dimensions to create complex shapes. Use a CNC router to cut large dimensions from materials like wood, metal or plastic.
  • Milling: Automated milling machines are one of the most common CNC machines you’ll find in a production shop. They use processes like drilling, boring, cutting gears and producing slots to remove material from the workpiece.
  • 3D printing: Unlike the rest of the machines above, which are used to remove material, this machine uses an additive process to create the finished product. According to programmed instructions, 3D printers layer your chosen material to build your product from the ground up.

A quality CNC machine can streamline the process of creating a part or prototype from scratch. If you’re looking to automate your prototyping or engineering company in Ukiah, CA, one of these machines can be a great help to your business. Contact Evden Enterprises to find the right machine for your needs.