These days, CNC (computer numerical controlled) machining is everywhere, so much so that your machine shop isn’t really complete without at least one CNC device. There are a number of different machines out there to choose from, including CNC milling machines, CNC routers, and CNC plasma cutters. If you’re looking to buy your first machine, though, you may want to consider investing in a CNC turning center.
Like other CNC processes such as CNC milling, CNC turning produces objects that are incredibly precise, and it produces them in a fraction of the time it would take to hand tool them. CNC machining is subtractive: that is, you begin with a block of material, and the machine cuts away the excess until you’re left with exactly the right part or product. More importantly, though, as the name implies, the entire process is controlled by computer software, which means you don’t have to worry about flaws or imperfections. You get near-perfect results, and you get them every time.
While CNC turning offers the precision of all CNC machining, it also offers greater versatility than most other kinds of machining. In the end, this helps ensure a healthy bottom line for your business. If you’re only going to invest in one machine, it needs to be a CNC turning center.
It’s simple: because computers do the work, CNC machining can create final products that are incredibly accurate and precise. CNC turning, for instance, can generally produce objects within a tolerance of .005 inches or .13mm. That’s precise enough that the human eye can’t distinguish differences. Why does precision matter? Beyond the look of the final piece, precision can be essential when you’re producing parts that are meant to fit together or to perform a particularly delicate task. Precision also makes an enormous difference if you are replicating a part or product, since you want each copy to be exactly the same as all the others.
In addition, CNC turning results in objects that are symmetrical. Because the material block is rotated, all sides are treated in the same way. And because it’s computer-controlled, the rotation happens at high speed, meaning you don’t have to worry about the possibility of human error caused by stopping and starting or uneven turning. Every piece comes out to exact specifications.
CNC machining, in general, is a very versatile process that can be used to produce essentially any product. Typically, an operator or engineer creates a three-dimensional version of the design using CAD software. This is then used to program the machine itself to make all the necessary moves to create the desired results. The computer controls when and how cutting takes place, along with calculating angles and controlling speed variance.
In addition, CNC machining works for a variety of materials. You can create objects out of multiple different kinds of metal. You can also work in plastics, hybrid materials, even wood.
CNC turning is especially versatile, however, because it allows for a whole host of machining processes to be completed at one time, including tapered turning, spherical turning, facing, parting, grooving, boring, and knurling. In addition, a CNC turning machine can produce objects that are hollow and can perform the same basic functions on the interior of the object as it does on the exterior.
Finally, though, investing in a high-quality CNC turning center will save you money in the long run. Obviously, you’ll find yourself with more jobs simply because you’ve got such a machine in your tooling arsenal. The accuracy and precision will increase the demand for your work in a new way.
Beyond this, however, the process itself saves money. CNC turning is fast, so jobs get done more quickly. The machine can work without stopping for rest or safety breaks. And other than an operator to program the software for each job, CNC turning doesn’t require any manpower. That means you can do more with fewer employees or find more important work for the employees you have.
If you haven’t yet explored what CNC machining can do for you, you owe it to yourself to investigate all the options. Ultimately, though, a CNC turning center offers the precision, versatility, and cost-savings that make it the ideal starter machine.