Advantages and Disadvantages of CNC Machining
CNC Machining is method under rapid prototyping services and has been considered as a true breakthrough in the manufacturing business. Rapid prototyping is becoming more and more well known, especially among manufacturers. Computer Numeric Control or CNC is the process by which a machine tool can operate on its own through the input of programmed commands rather than be manually operated. This innovation is a sign of how far we have come technologically speaking. The implications of such a promising technology are numerous and we can guess that this technology will continue to change the way companies manufacture products. However is it all benefit with no downsides? In every product or new method of doing things there will be some pitfalls. It is the company’s job to decipher whether or not the product or method is right for the company. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of CNC Machining.
- As rapid prototyping services, there is less manual labor involved with CNC machines. Unlike manual labor, computers don’t tire. They can work robotically. CNC machines can be used nonstop all year long, with the occasional maintenance break. This means while companies who use manual labor are taking sleep breaks companies using CNC machines are still making parts. The speed, efficiency and effectiveness are all factors that are skyrocketed with the use of CNC Machining. This factor alone may be enough for many companies to switch to CNC Machining.
- Previously, experts in the use of machine tools were needed. Only highly skilled engineers could operate milling machines and other manual devices. When it comes to CNC machines, the skill needed is at a much more basic level. Not to say anyone can do it but with a bit of training its possible for the public masses unlike manually run devices.
- Making mass manufacturing easier is the target for most companies when they look into new methods. CNC machines can be programmed once and then, using this programming, manufacture thousands of products each identical to the last. This accuracy and consistency may not be guaranteed with a human engineer.
- If the CNC machines are not running up to standard they can be updated simply by improving the software. If only we could update our own knowledge within a few moments.
- Certain products can only be made by CNC machines. CNC machines can be programmed by special design software to create unique designs not possible even by manual machines. If a company is looking into highly customized designs that would otherwise be impossible to construct using manual machines, CNC Machining may be the approach they want to take.
- The training necessary for the operation of CNC machines is available in convenient software. Using this software, potential operators can practice by getting some hands on experience with the CNC machine. It can be used directly from any computer and it functions in a way that is not very different from playing computer games, thus making the learning experience enjoyable for the future operators.
- A huge portion of the workload is taken off the shoulders of the workers. Only one person is necessary to monitor several CNC machines. Once the machines are programmed, the rest of the work can be left up to them while the worker can opt to grab a coffee. Occasionally the cutting tools need to be replaced, but this is still much more efficient than manual labor.
- Making prototypes is usually the way new by which products are brought forward but with CNC Machining this is not necessary. Using current software, designers can create a simulation of their ideas. Prototypes are not needed. The time and money saved in this way is invaluable to a company.
- If you leave a skilled engineer to his work he will be able to create the same product or part over and over again but if you observe each part with care you will surely notice many variations between each product. This is not done on purpose nor is the engineer to be blamed as he is just a human doing the work to the best of his ability. Human beings are prone to error. On the other hand, by using a CNC machine, it becomes possible to manufacture each and every part exactly as the last.
- A very common disadvantage when it comes to these types of technologies and can even be noted in certain rapid prototyping services, is the prices involved. CNC machines are a lot more expensive than their manually operated counterparts. However, the prices are slowly sinking and CNC machines are being seen more and more.
- Since the operation of a CNC machine requires only basic training, many of the skills that engineers had in the past are being forgotten. It used to be that engineers had to study for years and become experts in their field in order for them to operate manually operated machines. Many countries don’t even teach how to use these old machines anymore. As CNC Machining becomes more common, along with other rapid prototyping services, these old skills will slowly become a thing of the past.
- While a fewer number of workers in the factories is good news for a company, it spells bad news for the labor force. As the use of CNC machines increases, the unemployment rate is likely to go up.
The advantages may seem to outnumber the disadvantages but the decision of whether to use CNC machines or not is a critical one. While it may boost profits for your company you may be taking away another man’s job. As in all businesses, morals come into play. The moral dilemma may not be as pressing as other matters to some but still is one to be considered before purchasing a CNC machine.
Please view our Rapid Prototyping Services to learn more about 3E-RP.
CNC Rapid Prototyping
Injection Molding Prototyping
Rapid Tooling Prototypes