Firstly, what does CNC mean? A CNC machine is a computer numerically controlled machine which is used to accurately execute tasks such as cutting, drilling and grinding wood, metal or plastic.
CNC machinists work closely with the machinery to ensure it is set up properly, working well and producing a quality product. CNC machinists may work on a variety of different machines or specialise on one complex machine.
The day-to-day responsibilities for a CNC machinist could include:
• programming the CNC machine tool with data taken from technical drawings
• working out the most efficient order to carry out machining tasks
• choosing the right tools for each stage
• setting the cutting speeds and tolerance levels
• operating the machine
• checking the work meets quality and technical standards
• maintaining the equipment
CNC milling is a machine process which produces custom-designed parts or components by progressively removing material from the workpiece using rotating multi-point cutting tools and computerized controls. These systems usually have three linear degrees of freedom. They can move freely around the X, Y, and Z axes while the workpiece remains stationary. This limited dimensional operation reduces the speed of operations, making milling more suitable for prototyping and smaller production runs.
CNC turning is a manufacturing process that involves holding bars of material in a chuck and rotating them while feeding a tool to the piece to remove material until the desired shape is achieved. As the desired shape is achieved through the removal of material, it is also known as subtraction machining.
All of the work can be completed from one side if the CNC turning center has only one turret, but some turning centers have a main spindle and sub-spindle for even faster operation. With this configuration, the main spindle partially machines the workpiece, which is then moved to the sub-spindle to complete the job on the other side of the part. The speed of CNC turning operations makes it an ideal process for large production runs with short lead times.