What is CNC Technology?

What is CNC Technology?

The first numerical control (NC) technology was developed by John T. Parsons in 1947 while mating a milling machine to an IBM punch card system.  It wasn’t until the early 1950’s that engineers from MIT added the first ‘real’ computer element to the machines and forever changed how the new CNC machines operated.  CNC was an important advancement for machines to consistently reproduce complex machining steps without human intervention.

CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) always refers to how a machine controls its basic method of movement. A CNC machine will read a long list of digital coded information from a computer to move the motors and other positioning systems in order to guide a spindle over the raw material the machine is working on.

A CNC machine uses mathematics and coordinate systems to understand and process information about what to move inside the machine, where to move it to, and how fast to move it. Most CNC machines are able to move in three controlled directions at once on its axes.  The axes are given simple names such as X, Y and Z with the X always being the longest distance a part of the machine must travel.  The Y and Z axes will move from left to right and vertical to complete the job. Each CNC machine operates and positions itself with the use of spindles.

A CNC machine has to communicate with the computer to function properly. A computer numeric control unit sends position commands to the motors. The motors then must communicate back to the control unit that it has acted correctly and moved the machine a given distance. The ability of CNC machines to move in three (or more) directions at once allows the machine to create almost any desired pattern or shape.  Wisconsin Precision Machining Company (WPM) has state of the art equipment and each operator is fully trained on their respective machines.

The advantages of CNC machining are tremendous as no human could possibly control the precise movements that these machines will make over and over again. One skilled operator can perform the duties of several people thus reducing labor costs as well as part costs.  Each skilled operator will enter the coded data into the machine by hand or with the use of an electronic file system and once the data is entered the quality of the part relies on the quality of the machine.

The wide range of industries that use CNC variants are Heavy Equipment, Drilling, EDM’s, Lathes, Milling machine, Wood Routers, Sheet Metal Plants, Wire Bending Machines, Hot Wire Foam Cutters, Plasma cutting, Water Jet Cutters, Laser Cutters, Oxy Fuel, Surface Grinders, Cylindrical Grinders, 3D Printing, and many more.

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