The term CNC stands for 'computer numerical control', and the CNC machining definition is that it is a subtractive manufacturing process that typically employs computerized controls and machine tools to remove layers of material from a stock piece—known as the blank or workpiece—and produces a custom-designed part. This process is suitable for a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, wood, glass, foam, and composites, and finds application in a variety of industries, such as large CNC machining, machining of parts and prototypes for telecommunications, and CNC machining aerospace parts, which require tighter tolerances than other industries. Note there is a difference between the CNC machining definition and the CNC machine definition- one is a process and the other is a machine. A CNC machine (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a C and C machine) is a programmable machine that is capable of autonomously performing the operations of CNC machining.
Subtractive manufacturing processes, such as CNC machining, are often presented in contrast to additive manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, or formative manufacturing processes, such as liquid injection molding. While subtractive processes remove layers of material from the workpiece to produce custom shapes and designs, additive processes assemble layers of material to produce the desired form and formative processes deform and displace stock material into the desired shape. The automated nature of CNC machining enables the production of high precision and high accuracy, simple parts and cost-effectiveness when fulfilling one-off and medium-volume production runs. However, while CNC machining demonstrates certain advantages over other manufacturing processes, the degree of complexity and intricacy attainable for part design and the cost-effectiveness of producing complex parts is limited.
While each type of manufacturing process has its advantages and disadvantages, this article focuses on the CNC machining process, outlining the basics of the process, and the various components and tooling of the CNC press machine. Additionally, this article explores various mechanical CNC machining operations and presents alternatives to the CNC machining process.
Overview of CNC Machining Process
Evolving from the numerical control (NC) machining process which utilized punched tape cards, CNC machining is a manufacturing process which utilizes computerized controls to operate and manipulate machine and cutting tools to shape stock material—e.g., metal, plastic, wood, foam, composite, etc.—into custom parts and designs. While the CNC machining process offers various capabilities and operations, the fundamental principles of the process remain largely the same throughout all of them. The basic CNC machining process includes the following stages:
1. Designing the CAD model
2. Converting the CAD file to a CNC program
3. Preparing the CNC machine
4. Executing the machining operation
Hydraulic cutters, including swing arm cutting press, utilize a hydraulic mechanism to close the scissors’ hardened steel blades. Oil under high pressure (around 700 bar) is pumped to the movement mechanism to deliver enough power to cut even the hardest materials. The hydraulic cylinders of some cutters are filled through an external pump, while others have an electric pump with a battery integrated in the scissors’ handle. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find the type of hydraulic cutter that is most suited for your job.