Increasing Production and Accuracy with CNC Capabilities

The manufacturing industry is replete with processes that act as links to one another, allowing one step to influence and impact the next. When businesses attempt to perfect their processes to make the rest of the supply chain work more efficiently, production and quality are often at the top of the to-do list.

For businesses in the manufacturing sector, especially those who use computers to control machine tools or create prototypes based on digital files, CNC machining is perhaps the best way to increase in-house production and accuracy.

What is CNC Machining?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, and it allows operators to adjust tools such as routers, mills, lathes, and grinders through numerical input. Why is this beneficial? With CNC machining, you can control the feed rate, location, coordination, and speeds, offering a final product that is both higher quality and as close to the digital file as is possible.

CNC machines require a CAD drawing (created in either 2D or 3D), which is converted into a code that’s generated and understood by the CNC machine. The operator can then do a trial run, which is also called “cutting air,” to ensure both the speed and tool position is accurate. This is done to ensure product accuracy and the safety of the machine as miscalculations could result in damage to the machine or tool.

Faster turnaround times

Previously, this kind of work demanded a much greater investment in time as the bulk of the custom machining work and production was done manually. CNC machining enables businesses to perform repetitive tasks much quicker through the use of programmed adjustments and settings. Once the settings have been perfected, an operator can churn out more pieces per hour with minimal stopping time compared to when the task had to be done by hand.

Besides the obvious perk of pleasing the customer with a faster turnaround time on their parts, another benefit of CNC machining in regards to turnaround is the data it yields. When a CNC machine has been programmed with input that has been tested and shown to produce a quality and accurate part, the manufacturer can begin to track the cost of ownership (TCO) and mean time between failures (MTBF). These metrics will help them better understand the cost per part, uptime, and machine utilization—which all go a long way to improving internal processes and reducing costs and cycle time.

Improved accuracy and precision in final product

Accurate production is great when you’re machining complex, three-dimensional components; but a second advantage to that is a better understanding of the machines capability. Machinists can use lasers to measure accuracy and to gauge when that accuracy can no longer be improved. This is valuable because it tells the operator what kinds of tasks a given machine is best suited for, which means when a customer places their order, less time is spent testing the specifications on different machines—they’ll simply know to assign that task to a specific machine that’s been tested for that particular type of work.

CAM automation can also be utilized to improve the processing strategy of producing a more accurate final product more quickly. With CAM automation, machines can automatically recognize part features and from there, assign tool paths according to the manufacturer’s preferred practices.

All of these processes and technologies come together to help a manufacturer produce more accurate parts; and as is the case with complex components, precision is key.

Using a CNC machine affords any operation the opportunity to increase production and improve accuracy, which have positive impacts on other related processes, such as maintenance. Even for small companies, CNC machining can give them a reputation for quality and precision that easily puts them ahead of the competition.