Within the theory and practise of CNC Machining, few techniques have changed my work life like those in the article below. Read on and your life might well be changed too.

On my journey through the world of prototyping, fabrication and machining, CNC machining is a method that has literally changed my work life for the better. Easier to do and harder to master, CNC has become ubiquitous with companies and services that want to adopt or offer a better way to manufacture parts and components.

CNC machining is a process that involves carrying out tasks like drilling, boring and cutting under the instructions of a computer. With CNC, the machines make a set of instructions and specifications out of computer files and turn a piece of metal into a finished product by refining and cutting based on the instructions. It is a fast, repeatable, and efficient model that uses CNC controllers to perform complex cuts that would be too time consuming were it to be done manually.

Computer Numerical Controlled (or CNC) machining is a meticulous process that offers many advantages over traditional methods and procedure and in this article, we are going to take a look at a few inherent techniques that changed my life.

Turning

Ironically the first machine operation in history, this simply implies clamping a workpiece firmly onto a rotating plate or mandrel. As the workpiece spins, the cutting tool is held against it in a fixture mounted on a moving slide. The slide can be moved up and down the length of the workpiece, as required, to be as well as closer to or away from the center line. This simple action is ideal for removing large amounts of material quickly. In addition, a drill bit mounted on the tailstock can bore precise holes down the centerline of the workpiece. This is a subtractive technique and is used almost always on metal work.

Solid Sink EDM or Electrical Discharge Machining

Not to be confused with the music genre of the same name – here, a conductive electrode is placed close to the workpiece while bathed in a dielectric fluid. The electrode is precisely shaped for the feature that it’s cutting. With every electrode discharge, metal particles are forced off the surface of the workpiece. The electrode itself does not touch the workpiece but is sacrificial and may need to be replaced frequently. This is the only downside to this method

 With regards to utility, EDM is used to make pockets, holes and square features inside of hardened tool steels that would be difficult, if not impossible, to make any other way. It’s typically used on molds for plastic injection and pressure die casting, rarely on the finished piece itself. EDM is also used for making textured surfaces or debossed (recessed) lettering and logos on mold tools.

Optical Grinding

Many experts and pedigreed CNC machining services swear by this technique. It is one of the most used and indeed loved methods especially within the use case for which it specializes.

CNC machining is of great help in making specialty optics. Optics require thin surfaces and close tolerances. Thus, with the help of grinding equipment you can spin and grind a wheel against a surface. This helps eliminate nominal deviations. You can also use grinding paste for lubrication purposes. This paste also gives a polished finish to the surface.

To round up, the above techniques made my work life easier and allowed me to put out high quality work at a faster rate. I have had happy clients and even happier workers ever since.