Friday, October 30, 2015

Understanding CNC (part 1 of 2)

Have you ever asked yourself how machines in a factory know exactly when to stop making the parts they’re supposed to make? Well, this is all because of Computer Numerical Control (CNC). But to understand CNC, you have to know what Numerical Control (NC) is.


NC machines were first introduced after the 2nd world war as mass production became the trend. These machines were given a set of instructions in punched cards. However, these machines were hard-wired and their parameters were difficult to change.

These NC machines still required a great deal of human intervention. To illustrate this point, try to take a look at a drill press. A lot of actions have to be taken in order to manufacture a product. The process is actually so complicated that a person has to do something almost every step of the production process. This created an avenue for errors to take place as the likelihood of fatigue increased with the quantity growth.

CNC then came into the picture when computers were introduced. Punched cards were replaced by floppy disks, cables, and other software transfer media. This made it easier to manage and edit data.

Production and manufacturing were revolutionized by the increased automation of CNC machines. These machines allowed a degree of added control over the quality and consistency of the components that were manufactured without any additional strain on the operators. This reduced the frequency of errors and allowed the operators time to perform additional tasks. Furthermore, this automation allowed a greater degree of flexibility in the way components are held in the manufacturing process.

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