Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Review

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Computer Numerical Control CNC Review

Computer Numerical Control (CNC), and refers specifically to the computer "controller" of that reads the G-code instructions and drives the machine tool . The introduction of CNC machines radically changed the manufacturing industry. Curves are as easy to cut as straight lines, complex 3-D structures are relatively easy to produce, and the number of machining steps that required human action have been dramatically reduced.

With the increased automation of manufacturing processes with CNC machining , considerable improvements in consistency and quality for part features have been achieved. CNC automation reduced the frequency of errors and provided CNC machinist with time to perform additional tasks. CNC automation also allows for more flexibility in the way parts are held in the manufacturing process and the time required to change the machine to produce different components.

Additional advantages include the importation of computer aided design (CAD) 3D models for programming the CNC g-code. By using the accurate 3D CAD models, CNC machining programming and trouble shooting task labor costs have been dramatically reduced.

Examples of CNC machines
Mills
CNC mills use computer controls to cut different materials. They are able to translate programs consisting of specific number and letters to move the spindle to various locations and depths. Many use G-code, which is a standardized programming language that many CNC machines understand, while others use proprietary languages created by their manufacturers. These proprietary languages while often simpler than G-code are not transferable to other machines.

Lathes
Lathes are machines that cut spinning pieces of metal. CNC lathes are able to make fast, precision cuts using indexable tools and drills with complicated programs for parts that normally cannot be cut on manual lathes. These machines often include 12 tool holders and coolant pumps to cut down on tool wear. CNC lathes have similar control specifications to CNC mills and can often read G-code as well as the manufacturer's proprietary programming language.

Plasma cutters
Plasma cutting involves cutting a material using a plasma torch. It is commonly used to cut steel and other metals, but can be used on a variety of materials. In this process, gas (such as compressed air) is blown at high speed out of a nozzle; at the same time an electrical arc is formed through that gas from the nozzle to the surface being cut, turning some of that gas to plasma. The plasma is sufficiently hot to melt the material being cut and moves sufficiently fast to blow molten metal away from the cut.

Electric discharge machining
Electric discharge machining (EDM), sometimes colloquially also referred to as spark machining, spark eroding, burning, die sinking, or wire erosion, is a manufacturing process in which a desired shape is obtained using electrical discharges (sparks). Material is removed from the workpiece by a series of rapidly recurring current discharges between two electrodes, separated by a dielectric fluid and subject to an electric voltage. One of the electrodes is called the tool-electrode, or simply the "tool" or "electrode," while the other is called the workpiece-electrode, or "workpiece."

When the distance between the two electrodes is reduced, the intensity of the electric field in the space between the electrodes becomes greater than the strength of the dielectric (at least in some point(s)), which breaks, allowing current to flow between the two electrodes. This phenomenon is the same as the breakdown of a capacitor. As a result, material is removed from both the electrodes. Once the current flow stops (or it is stopped – depending on the type of generator), new liquid dielectric is usually conveyed into the inter-electrode volume enabling the solid particles (debris) to be carried away and the insulating proprieties of the dielectric to be restored. Adding new liquid dielectric in the inter-electrode volume is commonly referred to as flushing. Also, after a current flow, a difference of potential between the two electrodes is restored to what it was before the breakdown, so that a new liquid dielectric breakdown can occur.

Wire EDM
Also known as wire cutting EDM, wire burning EDM, or traveling wire EDM, this process uses spark erosion to machine or remove material with a traveling wire electrode from any electrically conductive material. The wire electrode usually consists of brass or zinc-coated brass material.

Sinker EDM
Sinker EDM, also called cavity type EDM or volume EDM, consists of an electrode and workpiece submerged in an insulating liquid—often oil but sometimes other dielectric fluids. The electrode and workpiece are connected to a suitable power supply, which generates an electrical potential between the two parts. As the electrode approaches the workpiece, dielectric breakdown occurs in the fluid forming a plasma channel) and a small spark jumps.

Water jet cutters
A water jet cutter, also known as a waterjet, is a tool capable of slicing into metal or other materials (such as granite) by using a jet of water at high velocity and pressure, or a mixture of water and an abrasive substance, such as sand. It is often used during fabrication or manufacture of parts for machinery and other devices. Waterjet is the preferred method when the materials being cut are sensitive to the high temperatures generated by other methods. It has found applications in a diverse number of industries from mining to aerospace where it is used for operations such as cutting, shaping, carving, and reaming.

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