CNC machines can manipulate tools around a varying number of axis, usually 3 or 5, with high-precision using instruction from a computer program.
The CNC process is an evolution of manual control, where live operators are needed to prompt and guide the commands of machining tools via levers, buttons and wheels. In CNC, machines are operated via numerical control, wherein a software program is designated to control an object, be it a router cutter, laser cutter or such.
The language behind CNC machining is referred to as G-code, and it’s written to control the various behaviours of a corresponding machine, such as the speed, feed rate and position.
Basically, CNC machining makes it possible to pre-program the speed and position of machine tool functions and run them via software in repetitive, predictable cycles, all with little involvement from human operators. Due to these capabilities, the process has been adopted across all corners of the manufacturing sector and is especially vital in the areas of metal and plastic production.
In CNC machining, movement is usually directed across X and Y axes. The tool, in turn, is positioned and guided via stepper or servo motors, which replicate exact movements as determined by the G-code.
CNC machines simply run fast at high precision and accuracy while simultaneously allowing the transformation of a digital design into a physical part. The beauty, of course of CNC manufacturing is that it takes as its source code a file which has also been developed in a numerical fashion – the CAD file.
Each feature of the CAD design is translated into a set of movement instructions, or vectors, which transform the image of the CAD design into a sequence of cutter movements which will bring the design to life.