CNC Prototyping and Its Advantages
CNC (computer numerical control) prototyping is a reasonably new process in the area of machining allowing for improved efficiency through higher levels of automation, and by letting the machine and its computer controls handle all the work. While CNC prototyping machines are complex and expensive, they almost immediately pay for themselves by lessening the workload and precluding errors.
The first key advantage of CNC prototyping is that it improves automation, removing the need of an operator for all but a few parts of the work. CNC prototyping machines can be left to itself for hours or even days if needed, allowing operators to perform other tasks. This also allows a company to employ fewer operators, therefore saving on overhead expenses. Without an operator, safety is increased, because in case there is a jam or other potentially dangerous machining error, no one will be holding the tool and the damage will be confined to the tool itself. CNC prototyping machines can also work a lot faster than human machinists, as they are much stronger and have no need to take breaks. They can also be operated late at night, when most of the workers would have gone home, since machines do not need to be bothered about being sleepy or getting paid for overtime.
The second biggest advantage to CNC prototyping is that it produces exactly the same result every single time. Even the best human operator will have slight variations among finished results, while a CNC machine will come up with exactly the same result each time. This is highly important in the modern time of homogeneous and exchangeable parts, where a single defective cut can render the machine entirely unusable. All that is needed is for one program to be developed as well as installed into the machine. Then the machine can toil away at however many work pieces are needed, producing an exact replica down to thousandths of an inch each and every time.
The third important advantage to CNC prototyping is the flexibility of the machine. Although humans are obviously more trainable and flexible than machines, a CNC machine can be fully reprogrammed in a matter of hours to generate a totally different product. Therefore, it is possible to revert back to old programs or install new programs if a new work piece is needed. This gives CNC prototyping machines a great advantage over other machines, because they can easily shift to producing a totally new product without having to install new parts or performing an overhaul of major components. This also makes sure that CNC prototyping machines can cope with customer demand, because they can readily shift from parts that are in surplus to parts that are lacking, in case a need arises.