CNC machining is used for a wide range of applications in the mechanical engineering industry. Many workshops house computer numerical control machines so that they can offer precision machining services to their clients.
If they require precision machining on a regular basis, large companies may also choose to purchase a CNC machine and hire a machinist trained in its operation. In this article, we outline the advantages and disadvantages of CNC machining, and how it compares to more traditional manual machining methods.
The advantages of CNC machining
Unrivalled product consistency
When it comes to consistency, CNC machining is the best in the market. Countless products, parts or components can be produced to exact and replicable measurements. Achieving large runs of identical products is effortless with a CNC machine. The nature of computer programming means that there is little room for human error. When carrying out manual machining services on a lathe, there will always be tiny differences between each finished product.
CNC machining is very accurate and extremely efficient. CNC machines can be left running 24 hours a day, year-round, with minimal maintenance. CNC machines do not require breaks or shut-down periods, which means that clients and project managers can receive their products, parts and components quicker.
Requires fewer operators
While computer numerical control machinists must be trained to operate a CNC machine, a large team is not required to handle it. In fact, one person can usually supervise several CNC machines simultaneously. Once they are programmed, they can often be left to carry out work with only the occasional changing of cutting tools. This is good news for both workshop managers and clients, as they are saving in labour costs.
The disadvantages of CNC machining
CNC machines are expensive to purchase outright
While many private companies or project managers of large enterprises may benefit in the short term from having an in-house CNC machine, these devices can be extremely expensive to purchase. There is also the additional cost of training staff to operate the machine. This is why subcontract CNC machining services are highly sought after. Outsourcing to skilled precision engineers with a workshop equipped with CNC machines is far more affordable, especially if CNC machining services are only required for a specific project.
Can lead to essential manual skills being lost
Many mechanical engineers are concerned that with an emphasis placed on teaching students to wield CNC machines, manual machining skills are being lost. These manual skills, including using a lathe for facing, turning, grooving and polishing, provide essential mathematical and engineering knowledge. This knowledge is paramount when assisting clients in solving problems with their components and machinery. When searching for a CNC machining subcontractor, it’s vital to look for professional mechanical engineers that have experience with operating not just computer-controlled machines but also manual lathes, milling machines, borers and other manual equipment. With knowledge of both traditional engineering techniques and contemporary advancements in technology, you know that your subcontractors will be using all of their experience to solve any problems that may arise.
Looking for subcontract CNC machining services within the Brisbane region? Prime Engineering carry out heavy CNC machining for industrial parts and components. Our workshop houses both state-of-the-art CNC machines and manual machines, and our team of experienced mechanical engineers have the skills to wield both. Contact us today to discuss your project and how we can assist you with your precision machining needs.