CNC machining has a long and fascinating history. Recent developments in the technology have made hobbyist machining more prevalent, but how do you know when you need a professional? In this article we will discuss what CNC machining is, some of its applications, and how to find the right CNC company for your project.
What is CNC Machining?
Computer Numerical Control machining is the process of shaping three dimensional objects with a machine tool that is controlled by a computer running a numerical program. These machines were originally manually operated by hand wheels and levers. Eventually, they were designed to be mechanically operated, and then further modified to be numerically controlled by systems reading punched tape. Finally, these punched tape systems were replaced with computers.
Today, the entire machining process is mostly automated with computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) programs. Some of the larger, more intricate machines may include multiple drills, saws, bits, etc. Other operations may utilize several machines and human or robot transfer of the object.
CNC Machining Applications
CNC Machining is used in a multitude of applications. It is used in just about every facet of manufacturing. Here are just a few areas where precision CNC machining services are needed:
1) Metal removal is a type of sculpting, in which metal is removed from the object through various means such as facing, boring, grinding, and tapping.
2) Metal fabrication utilizes thin metal plates to shape the object, much like a metal filing cabinet. For this operation, CNC milling is used to shear the metal plates to size, punch holes in the sheets, bend and form them into the correct shape, and complete the assembly.
3) Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) involves shaping a metal object by burning away metal pieces with electrical sparks. A common example of this type of CNC machining service includes a cavity into a metal object to create a mold of a specific shape.
4) Woodworking. CNC machining is also used quite extensively in the wood working industry. Routing and drilling are common CNC machining tasks in this industry.
These general methods of CNC machining are used to create three dimensional objects that we use in almost all of our technology. From computers to cell phones, and TVs to appliances, CNC milling is used to craft intricate items from small to large using such machines as a CNC knee mill, CNC engraving machine or mini CNC router.
CNC Machining Companies and Services
Like any other industry, CNC machining companies vary widely in which services they provide and the quality with which they provide it. When you are looking for a CNC machining company to do work for you, make sure that they are known and respected within the industry. Look for a company that has developed their expertise and skills with many years of experience. Try to find a company that is already successfully producing something similar to what you need. That way you can see the quality and consistency of their work.
Going Offshore – Our Recommended Service Provider
Our most recommended service is with a company called GL Model. These guys are based out of Shenzen in China, but they do CNC services or rapid prototyping for people all over the world.
They have great 24 hour communication through IM and they almost always beat local prices, even after you have factored in shipping costs. Be sure to check them out and get a qupte from them as well. They also discard all old projects after you have dealt with them to stop your work being replicated elsewhere.
We have dealt with them on multiple projects and have felt they offer offer an exceptional and economical service while providing really high quality products.
CNC machining is a highly skilled trade, so do not trust your project to just anyone, or to the lowest bidder. Research your options for CNC machining companies. If you are just starting out with a new invention or product, try working with someone close to home first. Consider your needs carefully, and look for the company that best fits those needs.