Is it really necessary to have the next generation of CNC machining? Turning and milling have been present for centuries, and for a reason. They simply perform the job that no other tool can do.
If we look back through history, a manufacturing shift happened in the 50s, when the first CNC machines were introduced and applied to already existing technology. Throughout time, our need for complex designs and greater speed only increased, pushing the limits of what traditional CNC machines can accomplish.
This resulted in the next generation of CNC machining. But let's start with some basic stuff!
What is CNC automation?
CNC automation aims at minimizing human involvement in manufacturing processes. We can also apply to other processes, like shifting workpieces from machine tools to supporting devices such as measuring cells or washing stations. It has different types such as boring mills, metal lathes, and routers.
Software and CNC machining
We live in a largely digital world. Everybody and everything are interconnected. Welcome to the internet of things! This stream of 0s and 1s has propelled invention at incredible rates. Most tech businesses employ a massive number of developers whose job is to push the boundaries of the equipment available today, with software being at the core of innovation.
So, let's use that idea in the context of CNC machining. From upload to production, each stage of this process has been automated by the team of developers. However, not many people know that manufacturing industries produce their parts digitally at the time of upload!
Customers may send a CAD file, which the company analyzes and provides feedback on. The customer usually has the final say and decides when the production will start.
Hardware and software enable automation of CNC machining
We require the collaboration of hardware and software to automate the CNC machining industry. This ensures consistently quick and dependable service. Due to an automated system, there is no need for many machine operators.
A robotic cell is a fantastic example of how hardware and software foster innovation. When your goal is to outperform the competition in speed, you carefully examine every step of your manufacturing cycle. In this instance, companies could expedite the material preparation for milling. They also maximized automation while increasing reliability and safety within the production cell.
More axes will minimize the costs
Typical CNC machines feature linear motion in three axes. You can also find a moving bed with many machines nowadays. But, the 3-axis milling center stays as the cutter moves. On the other hand, a 4-axis machine ensures a more precise cutting by using a rotational axis.
Finally, 5-axis machines can perform the best milling operations, including micromachining, which are extremely accurate cuts. Even though 4- and 5-axis CNC machines have been on the market for quite some time, a broader number of manufacturers only recently managed to access them because their price has dropped significantly.
Traditionally, vacuum plates or fixtures were designed to hold in place projects that are tough to secure. Due to their price, most companies avoid employing them unless absolutely necessary.
The same goes for waterjet cutting services. When you type "waterjet cutting near me" in your browser, you will notice that many businesses offer different price options.
While collaborative robots, or "cobots," have recently experienced mainstream adoption, robots have been part of the CNC machining industry for a long time. Contrary to industrial robots, cobots are made to collaborate closely with human workers. They can even be taught how to operate according to plan using manual motions because they are designed to function intuitively.
Because of improved robot vision systems, the deployment of cobots is accelerating quickly. Cobots can be equipped with vision systems that train them to observe, recognize, pick, and arrange parts in a machine shop, just as the vision systems in Tesla cars can distinguish between vehicles and pedestrians.
These robots are very adaptable and rarely require a considerable initial time investment because they need little to no programming and training. It is anticipated that this technology will increase workers' productivity and, in the long run, cut expenses by decreasing the possibility of human error.
Furthermore, some experts believe that robots may soon become even more useful workplace collaborators as machine learning skills are increasingly incorporated into robotic systems.
We hope this overview will give you a clear picture of how big of an impact automation has on CNC machining. We expect even greater changes in the future.