Types of Machine That Use CNC Technology

Posted on

Computer Numeric Control (CNC) is one of the most significant contributions of advanced computing technology to the manufacturing industry. CNC operated machines have made the manufacturing process uniform, efficient, and fast. Computer numeric control is used most often in machines like routers, and such machines are mainly used to cut a variety of materials. In the past, cutting machines were operated by hand and this process was prone to errors. The numeric codes used to control CNC machines ensures that all the performed tasks remain uniform and error-free.

Machines that use CNC

There are numerous machines that use CNC to perform various tasks, and the types and characteristics of such machines are discussed below.

Routers Routers are the most common types of machine that use CNC. These are primarily used to cut many different materials that range from plastics to sheet metal. Routers are completely automated and usually do not require human interaction to perform tasks. Wood CNC routers, plastic CNC routers, industrial CNC routers, and desktop CNC routers are some of the commonly used routers. These are used to cut wood, plastics, metals, and myriad other materials used in industrial production.

Routers are mostly set up on a 3-axis basis; however, using a 4 by 4 CNC router or a 4 by 8 CNC router is also popular. Industries that manufacture large products either use a 5 by 10 CNC router, a 6 by 12 CNC router, or a custom CNC router to suit their needs.

Mills – Mills, like routers, are also used for cutting purposes. These are however, much larger in size than routers. They are also often equipped with automated tool changers, feeding systems that take in material automatically, and have sensors to ensure safety. These are used for signmaking, mould making, and rapid prototyping.

Lathes – These machines are used to cut metal. Lathes can make precision cuts at fast pace on spinning or fast turning metal sheets. The drills and tools in lathes are usually used to cut metal parts that cannot be cut manually.

Plasma and Laser cutters – Plasma and laser cutters are similar to routers and they perform cutting functions. However, plasma cutters do not need as much force as routers to perform cuts, and these are used to make 2D cuts in metals. Laser cutters are similar to plasma cutters, but they are used more often to cut wood and plastics instead of metal.

3D printers – This CNC-based machine is rather interesting. Instead of cutting, it uses that same mechanism to squeeze out plastic to build exact physical objects of computer models. These are also called modelmaking machines.

How CNC works
Computer numeric control works by accurately moving the spindles attached to a machine, to match a specific set of instructions. These instructions or commands can be in the form of words and numbers. The computer converts these commands into a numeric code that instructs the machine to perform a precise set of movements, which are aimed to cut, dent, shape, sliver, or engrave a material. The computer can be programmed to repeat the same set of commands, thus making it possible for the machine to perform the same task in close succession and in an identical way.