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CNC Precision Machining: Everything You Need To Know

Have you ever wondered how machinists make those heavy aluminum tools and engine parts? They definitely did not make them with hands or cast them in a furnace. They make these parts from a process called CNC precision machining.

For those who are new to the manufacturing world, CNC precision machining is a manufacturing process that enlists the use of computer programs to create any product to exact specifications. Therefore, this article will define the process, the different pieces of equipment used, its applications, the different programming, and the processing involved.

What is CNC Precision Machining?

If the question “What is precise machining?” still lingers in your mind, here’s the answer. Just as the name implies, CNC precision machining involves shaping raw material into a finished product by cutting out excesses as designated by a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) blueprint. What’s more, machinists use this process in different manufacturing processes and on different materials.

Before making any product by precision CNC machining, using CAD or CAM programs to make the product's blueprint is necessary. That is to say, these programs make highly detailed 3D outlines that a precise machining process must follow to replicate the product successfully.

From toys to medical devices, automobiles, or space shuttles, any product that has parts needs precision machining. Using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment, the process utilizes actions like cutting, milling, turning, and electrical discharge machining to achieve the final product.

Although the process requires the overwatch of a skilled machinist, a machine does most of the work automatically. The Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software creates the design, and the Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software then translates it into manufacturing instructions for the machine. A final post-processor software codes the instruction into information the machine can understand. The machinists then load the instruction into the CNC equipment to start the manufacturing process.

Injection molding

Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts by injecting molten material into a mold, or mold. Injection molding can be performed with a host of materials mainly including metals (for which the process is called die-casting), glasses, elastomers, confections, and most commonly thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers. Material for the part is fed into a heated barrel, mixed (using a helical screw), and injected into a mold cavity, where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity. After a product is designed, usually by an industrial designer or an engineer, molds are made by a mold-maker (or toolmaker) from metal, usually either steel or aluminum, and precision-machined to form the features of the desired part.

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