The industrial revolution heralded methods that could manufacture components in a mechanized manner and that too at a faster rate. Milling that was previously done through manual machines slowly blended with computers to create CNC milling machines that automated much of the milling process and produced products at an increasingly faster rate.
Advantages of CNC milling
CNC mass manufacturing produce many consumer and industrial products including cars being made at a frantic pace to reduce costs, turning or drilling each metal component is not possible with manual methods. Not only would the rejection rate increase due to human error, but the cost of producing the required number of parts within the specified time frame too could spiral out of control. CNC milling machines make short work by turning out parts at the desired speeds. CNC machines such as CNC lathes, CNC laser cutting machines, CNC routers, etc., combine together to take automation to a very high level and provide components that hardly have any defects at a vastly improved pace.
Features of CNC milling machines
CNC mills are made of mechanical components such as cutters, chucks, flat and angled beds, motors, tool bits, etc., that get their orders from the connected computer. The computer is first used to create the required software that provides a virtual design of the finished product. However, this design needs to be turned into reality and this is where CNC controllers step into the picture. They interpret the commands issued by the computer and turn them into electrical pulses to activate the desired motors so as to place the tool bit and the job-work at the required location. The milling process usually involves two or mores axis, i.e. horizontal or vertical. However, newer machines offer up to 5 different axes for complex components. Programmers that have detailed knowledge of Computer Aided Design or CAD software work in tandem with engineers that are experts in Computer Aided Manufacturing processes or CAM to churn out products in the required shapes.
Homemade CNC mills
People that want to create components or even pieces of art in wood or metal at home can make their own CNC mills. They can easily connect a computer including a laptop to the machine and start turning out the desired parts. There are several websites that offer helpful tips on how to build such machines at home. However, rigidity of the entire frame should be maintained for increased accuracy. Software too can be located and if one has knowledge of programming in CAD or any other 3D design then that could be an added advantage. The cost of making a homemade CNC milling machine would be much lower than a readymade one and would also offer flexibility to adapt to specific needs. Homemade machines or those used in workshops are not meant for mass production but instead focus more on getting the job done in-house at a lower cost.
With the world consuming millions of products, which in turn are manufactured using billions of components, it is imperative for manufacturers to utilize machines that run on their own with minimal human intervention. CNC milling is one such process that has taken over where humans could never compete in terms of speed and accuracy. The process of evolution is still on for CNC milling as each manufacturer tries to outdo the competition in terms of increased speed and lowered costs.