Does Your Project Require Production CNC Machining?
As you shop for manufacturers to create the machined parts you need for your business, you may see a number of them tout production CNC machining. You may be asking yourself, "What is production CNC machining and do I need it?"
Computer controlled machining
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining refers to a machine tool that is run by a computer following a set of precise instructions. These instructions tell the machine exactly how to move and cut a piece of material to provide a piece manufactured to very tight tolerances.
Production CNC machining has been around since the 1960s and NC machining, a more primitive form of machine control, has been around since the 1940s. However as computer technology exploded over the last 20 years, so has the use of CNC. Today, off the shelf PCs can operate multiple machines with a level of sophistication unmatched in CNC's infancy.
A manufacturing revolution
The manufacturing industry has seen radical changes in the wake of widespread production CNC machining. Complex curves are as easy to cut as straight lines. Three-dimensional pieces can be manufactured with ease. Human intervention has been reduced and production speed has skyrocketed. Since robots don't need days off, factories can produce 24/7 without an operator present.
The increased manufacturing automation that has come out of production CNC machining has led to tremendous improvements in consistency and quality of machined parts. Manufacturing jobs that might require weeks of careful hand machining in a small manual shop can be done in hours or minutes in a CNC production line.
Do you need production CNC machining?
When comparing possible manufacturers for your product, you need to ask yourself if you need the features of CNC.
Production CNC machining operations tend to be large manufacturers. If you have a large order that will require a long manufacturing run, then CNC might be a cost-effective choice for you.
The area where this machining technology really shines is in precision. If your manufacturing project involves complicated shapes and/or very tight tolerances, then CNC is almost certainly the best choice.
However, if your need is for a small number of fairly simple pieces, then a shop that still does manual machining might be just what you need. They can provide a very attractive solution to the small-job client who doesn't need the capabilities of a full production CNC machining shop.
As the technology advances, this choice may become a thing of the past. The technology has become so accessible and so inexpensive than even many one-man machinist operations have installed CNC capability on their machines.
Shop around for the best provider
Choosing between a full production CNC machining manufacturer and a small manual shop is just one choice to make when looking for a machining solution. It is important to evaluate a number of possible providers and evaluate the capabilities and limitations of each. This allows you to make the best choice of a shop to suit your particular manufacturing needs.