Computer numerical control (CNC) was first invented in the 1940s. Since then, it has revolutionized the industrial and manufacturing process. The CNC’s production equipment, tools, and machine processes are controlled based on pre-programmed software. Various machines are used to produce many products—from cars to smartphones. And with different types available in today’s market, choosing a suitable one can be challenging. However, knowing what features are most significant to your business can help you pick the best one.
For instance, if you need a mill that can serve multiple functions, a vertical mill can be better suited than a horizontal mill. Also, verifying the machine’s maker guarantees that it’ll last and perform as expected. Investing in a reputable manufacturer like CNC Masters can ease your mind about the machine’s reliability. Here’s a closeup look at five types of CNC machines.
1. CNC Waterjet Cutters
The CNC waterjet cutters will be perfect if you want to equip your shop with a more highly versatile cutting tool. The CNC waterjet cutter uses high pressure and velocity to slice through a wide range of materials. With this machine, you’ll be able to create an increased erosion process as effectively as other CNC cutting machines. The precise cutting method used by waterjet cutters is ideal for use on sensitive materials that could melt when subjected to high temperatures. Also, a CNC waterjet cutter can be suitable for cutting aluminum and plastic. It incorporates abrasive materials such as aluminum oxide and garnet. Adding these items to the water can make the cutting process efficient and precise.
2. CNC Milling Machine
CNC milling machines, or CNC mills, are among the most popular CNC machines in the market. A CNC mill is often used for drilling, cutting, and milling operations. It extracts and converts distinct programs of numbers and letters to route and path spindle in various ways. This machine uses the programming language known as G-codes. The computer sends commands in the form of G-codes. These codes help the cutting tool on the rotating spindle perform its functions effectively. The device works by rotating and moving at various angles. Drilling, tapping, turning, and face milling are the standard functions performed by CNC milling machines. In addition, these machines offer different configurations. For instance, a sophisticated CNC mill can have five or more axes to conduct unique movements. This feature makes it easy to create a complex shape in one place without using a different machine.
3. CNC Router
The CNC router is similar to a CNC milling machine. However, it’s primarily designed to work on softer materials. Hence, it’s less precise than a CNC milling machine. When it comes to pricing, CNC routers are way more affordable than their counterparts, CNC mills. CNC routers utilize computer numerals to control the machine’s tool path and spindle. They can be used to shape and design various materials. These include steel, wood, aluminum, composites, plastic, and foams. This CNC machine has a spindle, mechanical base, stepper drivers, motors, power supply, and controllers. It also comes in an array of axes ranging from 3 axes to 6 axes. With these axes in place, carving a shape that best suits your needs becomes easy.
4. CNC Lathe Machine
A CNC lathe machine utilizes high-speed spinning and cutting of the material to create a desired form. Unlike CNC routers, a CNC lathe machine is effective when working on flat, conical, or cylindrical products. This is the main difference between CNC lathes and CNC mills, as the latter work on all shapes. The CNC lathe machine is affordable and ideal for creating fast and simple jobs. However, it’s less versatile and precise than the CNC mills. Thanks to the CNC lathe’s small and compact design, it has gained popularity due to enhanced portability. It also stands out from other CNC machines due to its ability to operate while rotating a workpiece. The CNC lathe features a computer-controlled lathe spindle. This spindle turns and rotates the workpiece into various positions as the computer commands. The commands will be determined by what you program the computer to do.
5. CNC Plasma Cutting Machine
A CNC plasma cutting machine is similar to a CNC mill. It’s known for sharing various functionalities to produce a desired design. And unlike a CNC mill, CNC plasma cutting machines utilize a plasma torch to cut workpieces, creating your preferred shapes. The CNC plasma cutting machine uses an electric discharge mechanism. So, it’s only used on materials that can conduct electricity. While this is considered a disadvantage, its cutting technique is efficient and precise. Hence, this machine is ideal for cutting various materials such as steel, brass, aluminum, stainless steel, and copper. The powerful torch in the CNC plasma cutting machine cuts through the toughest materials, such as steel and titanium, with utmost ease. So, it’s no surprise that it’s widely used in heavy-duty industries, such as automobile manufacturing, shipbuilding, and chemical manufacturing sites.
Different types of CNC machines are available in today’s market. CNC machines offer incredible flexibility and performance when it comes to cutting operations. Finding one that will best suit your needs will be determined by the nature of your work.