History of CNC Machines
One of the most important things to know about CNC machines is that CNC machine technology started like many parts of pre-computers during the 1950’s.
The original CNC machine was a punched tape system that controlled the machine tool movement.
These original CNC machines from the 1950’s-1970’s were very limited in comparison to today’s standard CNC machine technology. During the late 1970’s and 1980’s, computer controlled technology evolved and integrated itself with tool changing capabilities.
This allowed the program to complete its cycle and process allowing less interruption and interference from a machinist. Still the technology was expensive and programming was difficult for the average manufacturer.
During the 1990’s Mazak became the largest seller of CNC Machines selling billions annually worldwide. They created the conversational control which helped the machinist to program the machine much easier allowing the CNC to predetermine speeds and feeds.
The average short run CNC machine shop could now easily set up and program in a fraction of the time while producing the part quickly in comparison to manual machining.
This was a huge advantage and was the first major advancement that allowed sales to skyrocket.
The 1990’s was the biggest decade in CNC machine sales and kept its momentum over the last 30 years.
Description of CNC Machines
Modern CNC machines is a computer controlled manufacturing machine with tool movements in 3 – 5 Axis cutting
Bending, Laser, 3D printing material to a finished product.
What most people don’t know about CNC machines is that ‘CNC’ is a short abbreviation for the term Computer Numeric Control.The Numeric is positioning and measuring process which the computer is in controlling the tool path and machining process.
What do CNC Machines Cut?
CNC Machines can cut a variety of materials.
The most common materials are metals such as aluminum and steels.
However every type of metal has been been cut on a CNC machine.
Also including wood, plastics, ceramics and even human bone (so gross)!
CNC machines are designed to cut the toughest materials on the planet and combined with complex engineered tooling for optimum performance and cost savings.
Modern CNC Machines Today and the Future of CNC Machines
Today, CNC machines have become cost effective. Fast processes and cutting give the advantage to the technology over cheap overseas labor. Our politicians believe re-shoring has to do with taxes and policies, the reality is these factors have an effect.
The high technical jobs are reshoring and the old labor intensive work is not.
Today’s competitive advantage goes to the manufacturing companies utilizing the CNC technology properly with quality control and limited labor cost.
In fact if you really think about it, having American companies producing products in a country on the opposite side of the world, then shipping those products back to the United States to be sold is not a good solution for many reasons.
Let’s look back at the early 2000’s. Technology is now driving the cost low and we no longer have to share our American trademarks and advanced processes.
The only technology the world has not seen change much is shipping cargo. The boats have become larger, but they still go the same speed. The time it takes to ship abroad is consuming and will one day be recognized as one way, but not necessarily the best and cheapest way.