For the non-engineer to appreciate the full significance of modern CNC turning services, it is first necessary to examine the simplest form of the process. As its name implies, the operation utilises a selection of accurately placed cutting tools in order to shape a rotating workpiece. Depending on the precise requirement, the latter may consist of anything from wood to various metals and ceramics. During the operation, the various cutting tools may remain totally stationary or be directed along either a horizontal or a curved path thus resulting in a wide range of possible shapes.
Tools of this type were once entirely manual in nature and examples of lathes operated by manpower alone can still be seen in some of the less advanced societies today. The advent of electricity in the first world countries, however, saw an end to the need for pedals and treadles. For the first time it became possible to power machining equipment by means of electric motors. This meant that the workpiece could now be rotated at a pre-selected and far more constant speed that resulted in greater accuracy and reduced milling time.
Despite this, the actual setup and control over the final shaping still remained a manual process and required the operator to elect and to position the various cutting tools by means of handwheels and levers. By contrast, the CNC turning and milling services in use today can actually be conducted without any human intervention at all, once a detailed set of design specifications for any given end product has been compiled.
These operations are certainly not limited to shaping the exterior of a workpiece and may, for instance, be used equally effectively to create an accurate thread pattern on the inside of a metal or plastic cylinder, defining both its size and its position with a high degree of precision. So how has it become possible to control these complex machining operations with such ease and accuracy? The answer is to be found in the 3-letter acronym which actually stands for Computer Numerical Control; a technology that has totally transformed the manufacture of precision-made parts.
Computer aided design software is used to create a 3D model that, in turn, is analysed by a computer aided manufacturing programme that generates the control code that will drive the entire machining process, determining such factors as the correct tool, the speed and direction of rotation, the depth and position of cuts and the need to introduce coolants or lubricants should they be required at any stage.
Fine Blanking are industry leaders in this technology and offer an extensive range of precision CNC turning services in support of local manufacturers.