The Introduction to CNC Metal Machining

by Thomas Rivera

What is metal machining? Technology and technique used for metal machining

Metal Machining is a manufacturing term used to describe a broad range of processes and technology used to cut raw metal materials into desired shapes, sizes, texture, and finishing to create metal parts, machinery, and tools. The metal machining process requires its type of technique and a specific cutting tool to achieve the desired design and features.

Introduction to CNC Metal Machining and How It Works

CNC is an abbreviation of Computer Numerical Control. In metal machining, CNC is the use of a computer to control cutting movement and tools through the use of data from the desired design. CNC metal machining involves using open or closed-loop systems. Open-loop metal machining is where signals run in one direction between motor and controller. A closed-loop system involves using a controller capable of running diagnostics to correct errors in velocity and position. 

CNC machines and their application

In metal machining, the most common processes that require CNC are when drilling, laser cutting routing, ultrasonic welding, flame, and plasma cutting. 

The following are CNC metal machines: 

Lathes: They involve cutting metal in a circular direction in high velocity and precision. They can produce complex designs that are impossible to produce using manually operated machines. They consist of only the X and Z axis. 

CNC mills: They run based on the commands and prompts pre-programmed. CNC mills operate on 3 (X, Y, and Z) axis. However, newer mills can accommodate more than three.

Plasma cutters: Plasma cutting involves generating heat and speed required to cut metal. 

Electrical discharge machines (EDM): They mold and shape metals using electrical sparks.

Water jet cutters: They cut hard metal materials using high water pressure. The water is sometimes combined with strong abrasive substances.

Types of Metal Cutting Processes

Turning: It is a form of CNC machining involving the removal of unwanted metal. There are two types of CNC turning, which involve single-point cutting and multi-point cutting. Through turning, one can get features like holes, groves, and tapers. 

Milling:  Milling creates features like three-dimension surfaces, holes, symmetrical parts, and pockets using milling tools like high-speed steel mills, high-speed cobalt, and carbide.

Reaming: it used to enlarge holes.

Boring: It is the process of enlarging drilled holes. 

Grinding: it involves the use of grindstones or grinding wheels.

Laser engraving: This requires high precision labeling. Laser technology is a cost-effective way of engraving metals.

Shaping: Shaping uses heat where malleable metal parts are hammered and pressed to achieve the desired shape.

Advantages of using CNC metal machining include:-

High degree of precision.

CNC machines are reliable

High capability and capacity of mass production.

Less man labor required since they are controlled using a computer programed software.

Lower production cost because they are fast and efficient.

CNC reduce the risk of injury making them a better alternative compared to manual operated machines.

Metal machining is an industry that has grown and developed over time. With new technology and techniques emerging, it’s advisable to talk to a professional machinist to get the right insight.

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