Machine tools were once all manual. An individual would be working with several processes or a single process doing the same job in a
CNC is an acronym that stands for computer numerical control. It is a computer system that creates automated machining processes in conjunction with CAD and CAM software. Modern machines can give the output of several different single manual machines in one solution. For instance, drills, saws, lathes, and cutters can all be within one machine, so that the end result could be a product that usually takes a great deal of work to manufacture.
Why Services Over In-House CNC Machines
Before getting into the precision associated with CNC machining services, it’s important to understand why it’s not advantageous for
companies to purchase these machines with software attached. The main reason is simple, it’s cost prohibitive. A single cutter, for instance, could cost upwards of $5K, and that only does one job. For a machine that does multiple things, on an industrial level, expect to pay out six figures. The average cost rising upwards of $200K for new equipment. For this reason alone, it may be better to look at getting professional on demand manufacturing, rather than trying to get in-house solutions set up and ready to go. In regards to precision, however, services trump the training required to work with, house, and purchase a solution for just about any industry or warehouse use.
Automation Controlled By CAD and CAM
The first thing to consider regarding precision is that the machining process is controlled by two major components. The first is computer-aided design, which utilizes mathematics for precise grid management. That is translated into the directives necessary for manufacturing, known as CAM or computer-aided manufacturing. These are very precise, and utilize up to 3 axis points for 3D manufacturing and design. CAD and CAM are two software elements that are precise, far more than manual input and output protocol.
Multiple Point Axis Machines Available
There are many different types of CNC machines. There is a standard that utilizes 3-axes points. However, modern machines can get upwards of 5-axes points. There are advantages to both 3 points and 5 points, with the 5 point solution offering even more precision than the 3. With the addition of 2 more points, machining services can provide complex shapes as the end result. A 3+2 machine can offer swift production scheduling, and relational accuracy that is far greater than others.
Fewer Setup Changes
Manual machining, and even some 3-axes machines require setup changes. These changes can offset the precision of the end product, or parts in general. However, many companies now offer the 5-axes point matching process which eliminates some of the setup changes. By eliminating some of these changes, the accuracy becomes nearly perfect in every way. Feature to feature accuracy thrives with less setup shifts because it uses the home access point for several shifts overall. Flexibility is increased, while reducing chances of errors at the same time.
Continual Operation (24 Hours If Need)
A CNC technician may get a 12-hour shift. Within that 12 hours, they will have multiple breaks, and may even need longer lunch or separate breaks for various reasons. Manual machinists can only work so many hours a day, and subsequently a week. Even the most accomplished of machinists cannot work 24 hours a day on a strict production schedule. Furthermore, continual operation for a technician will lead to mistakes over time. People get fatigued, they grow weary of processing, and will make mistakes.
With the use of CNC machining services, the automation schedule can go 24 hours a day. That means that the turnaround time is faster, and the performance becomes easier to manage. With regular maintenance, machines that work with CAD and CAM software protocol can last years, and go through production schedules of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making tens of thousands of products, parts, and prototypes with very few or no errors at all. Even complex designs can be mass produced with relative ease.
Some raw materials are easier to work with than others. Some mold easier, others bend easier, some are stronger, harder to cut, and shape. With the use of services, precision comes to the surface in the versatility of the materials that can be used. Material needs may vary from production design to production design, but it is important. For instance, if a medical company needs a hip joint or a knee replacement piece, it has to utilize materials that are strong, and safe to go inside the human body.
Precision matters here, as the human body needs very precise, specifically designed pieces to function properly. A knee or hip replacement has to be precise and made of composite materials, lest the patient lose mobility after surgery. Service providers that offer a lot of material options may also garner high precision as a result.
Perhaps the biggest advantage that CNC machining services have is found with software updates. Unlike manual solutions, upgrading an automated solution is as simple as getting a new program upgrade, and software installation. That means that if there are in fact errors in the final products or prototypes, editing the programming can resolve the issue. However, if a manual machine is broken, by any means, replacement parts, maintenance and more may be difficult to manage.
The precision of automated CNC machining is second to none. With upgrades to programming, materials, and uses, you’ll find that this has trumped manual production options in nearly every industry and this is how we work at Bates Machine. From simple components and parts to complex options, you’ll find that CNC machining services provide faster, cost effective solution for companies that need consumer level products, parts, and more. It’s advantageous to utilize precision automated services than to stick with any manual production at this point.
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Bates Machine & Mfg., Inc. is a family owned business located just outside the DFW Metroplex in Farmersville, TX since 1975.