A subtractive manufacturing process in which computerized controls and machine tools are used to remove layers of material in order to produce a desired part, computer numerical control (CNC) machining is one of the most widely used manufacturing techniques. Although it is based on technology that was developed in the 18th century, it is relatively recent.
Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, the beginnings of industrialization were marked by the technological precursors to Precision CNC Machining. Nevertheless, it wasn't until the end of World War II that the technology was fully automated and the CNC machining method was fully implemented. As computer and manufacturing technology develops at a rapid pace, milling technology continues to evolve and find new applications year after year. Manufacturing is increasingly seeking ways to improve productivity and flexibility while also cutting costs in the face of disruptions such as the rise of "smart" technology and the COVID-19 pandemic (and its ongoing impact on consumer behavior).
For this challenge to be met, widespread adoption of new technologies is required. Fortunately, some of these technologies are expected to become widely adopted throughout the industry in the coming year. Five trends are on the horizon that will almost certainly shape the direction of Swiss CNC Machining in 2021, as shown in the graphic below.
Linguistic motion in three axes is characteristic of traditional CNC machinery. While many machines now include a moving bed, a 3-axis milling center maintains its position even as the cutter moves around. Most of the time, when using a 3-axis machine, the bed moves linearly along two axes and the spindle moves up and down along the third axis. Manufacturers will save more money on CNC machining if they use fewer setups and a greater number of axes. Because of this, 4-axis machines are well suited for the production of medical devices and parts with complex geometries. They are capable of producing extremely detailed cuts at unheard-of speeds, and they allow for micromachining to be done. They are made up of three linear axes and two rotational degrees of freedom, in that order. Despite the fact that 4- and 5-axis CNC machines have been commercially available for a number of years, they have only recently become financially feasible for a significant number of CNC Prototype Machining manufacturers.
Tools that are universally applicable.
Therefore, they have been extremely expensive, and most manufacturing teams prefer not to employ them unless absolutely necessary. It has become possible to custom-configure a single part for multiple operations, thanks to the introduction of universal bases such as the Pierson SmartVac and the Blue Photon UV workholding system. Matrix Innovations developed a similar solution in the form of universal soft jaws, which can be customized and used for a variety of repetitive operations. It is far more affordable to complete complex CNC machining projects when using vacuum tables and reusable soft jaws in conjunction with one another.
Use of robotics is becoming increasingly common.
Cobots, as opposed to industrial robots, are intended to work in close proximity to human employees. Designed to operate intuitively, they can even be taught to perform their intended function through the use of manual motions. Because of advancements in robot vision systems, the use of cobots is growing at an alarming rate. Similar to how a Tesla car has vision systems that can recognize cars and pedestrians, cobots can be equipped with vision systems that can teach them to see, recognize, pick, and place parts in a machine shop.
The fact that these robots require little in the way of programming and training means that they are incredibly versatile and require little in the way of initial time commitment. In the long run, it is expected that this technology will help to increase worker productivity while also lowering costs by reducing the likelihood of human error. More to the point, as machine learning capabilities are increasingly incorporated into robotic systems, some experts predict that cobots will become even more effective workplace collaborators in the near future as a result of these developments.
The primary visual guide for operation setup and progression, and it can even be configured to include troubleshooting videos, is provided by this screen. This software integration into CNC machining equipment will benefit manufacturers by allowing them to not only improve workforce training but also increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing workforce. And while the initial investment in this technology will be substantial, the reduction of operator error is expected to result in significant long-term cost savings.
When it used to be prohibitively expensive, the software is now not only more affordable, but it is also easier to use and more intuitive. It is also more powerful. Improved efficiency and accuracy, as well as the ability to create even more innovative workflows, are all possible with this upgraded CAD/CAM system.