Computer numerical control (CNC) turning is a machining process that relies on a computer to fabricate an accurate rendering of a digital blueprint. CNC technology, which has rapidly advanced in recent years, is making it easier than ever before to manufacture and fabricate reliable components, products and tools out of sheets of metals, plastics and even woods.
Turning is the act of using a lathe—it consists of using a cutting tool to remove material from a larger work piece. Today, it's possible to remove human intervention from the turning process thanks to the assistance of a CNC console.
CNC turning is just one common machining process that takes advantage of the recent advances in machining technology. It offers a number of benefits, including increased production speed, enhanced production efficiency, more cost-effectiveness and safer industrial operations. Compared with human-operated machining processes, CNC machining produces higher-quality results in a more cost- and time-effective manner.
There are several other types of CNC machining processes currently available. If you're struggling to determine which CNC machining process is right for you and your industrial operations, consult with an expert specializing in CNC turning.
Some modern mills are built with CNC technology incorporated into the machines. However, older mills are often retrofitted with an attached CNC console. Mills rely on a series of rotary cutters to remove mass from the machined material—commonly steel, aluminium or copper.
Similarly to mills, many lathes are built with CNC technology. They are, however, easily retrofitted to incorporate the accuracy, safety and speed of CNC consoles. CNC turning is conducted on a lathe—lathes consist of a stationary rotary cutter that removes mass as the material is moved around it.
Laser cutters use a high-powered beam of light to cut or mark metals, woods and plastics. Laser cutters controlled by a CNC console are capable of massive amounts of industrial output. Laser cutters are often used to etch designs or marks into metal tools or finished products.
Plasma cutters use jets of super-heated plasma gas to cut and etch metals, woods and plastics. Plasma cutters are often more agile than routers, mills and lathes, and are better at performing highly precise detailed work. Generally speaking, plasma cutters are only useful for making two-dimensional objects and designs.