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What Is CNC Machining?



When it comes to manufacturing – precision is key. If individual components do not fit together perfectly, or if there is an inability to create custom shapes, then the project potential could be severely limited. 

Even in cases where carving a material by hand is possible, the process often lacks consistency, especially in the case of batch work. Furthermore, carving or shaping a material by hand can be incredibly time consuming and expensive.

So what’s the solution? Well, when it comes to the precision cutting and shaping of almost all solid materials known to exist, the answer is CNC machining.

As a process that’s also suitable for aluminium which we specialise in here at ABS, CNC machining can create untold possibilities for any construction, manufacturing or engineering project.

Here is an overview of what CNC machining is along with a rundown of its benefits. 

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CNC Machining: An Overview

CNC machining stands for computer numerical control machining. It is a digital manufacturing technology capable of providing highly accurate parts directly from a CAD file. 

The first step of any CNC project is that an engineer will first have to create instructions for the CNC machine, and this is done through a CAD file. These instructions will be generated as code which the machine can then interpret on a computerised system. 

The CNC machine will then execute all instructed operations. This includes tool changes, cutting operations as well as cooling of the part and the tool, so that it is ready to use for its intended purpose. 

CNC tools include mills, lathes, routers, plasma cutters and electrical discharge machines. These tools are used to create parts that can be rotated on a number of axis, providing endless possibilities with regard to the shape, depth and the angle of cuts made into the material. 

As the instructions are pre-loaded into the CNC machine using CAD, little human supervision is required throughout. 

What Materials Are Suitable for CNC Machining?

Almost any kind of solid material is suitable for CNC machining, creating untold possibilities for any engineering project.

Some of the most commonly used materials for CNC machining include: 

  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Delrin plastic
  • Hardwood
  • Foam (rigid) 
  • Nylon
  • Plywood
  • Softwood
  • Steel

What is CNC machinery used for?

Computer numerical control (CNC) is a manufacturing solution that automates the control, movement and accuracy of machine tools through the use of preprogrammed computer software, which is ingrained inside the tools. CNC is commonly used in manufacturing for machining metal and plastic. CNC machining also produces parts for larger devices and small components used for fitting implants

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Types Of CNC Machining

There are various types of CNC machines, and each comes with its own set of benefits and limitations, depending on the material it will be applied to. It’s important to understand these so that the right application technique can be used for your project. 

3 Axis CNC Machines

  • CNC Milling
  • CNC Turning

Multi-Axis CNC Machines

  • Indexed CNC Machining
  • Continuous 5 Axis CNC Machining
  • Mill Turning

CNC Machining Benefits

By far, the biggest benefit of CNC machining is the sheer number of items and individual components it can be used to create. Everything from planes to boats, cars to computers and everything in between.

Interestingly, unlike 3D printing or injection moulding, CNC machining is known as a subtractive manufacturing technology. That’s because the process begins with removing material from a solid block, known as the blank or workpiece.

The blank is placed into position, whereby the CNC machine will apply the specific set of instructions, that the code generated by the CAD work gave. Removing the material in line with these instructions can be completed by a variety of automated cutting tools and techniques.

Another benefit of the CNC method is that every blank that comes into contact with a CNC machine is subject to extreme accuracy, meaning regardless of the shape of the part needed, so long as the material is solid, the results can always be generated with ease. 

CNC Machining UK – Aluminium Bending Specialists

Are you in need of some custom aluminium work created by CNC machining? ABS is based in the East Midlands, providing aluminium services across the UK.

Our work includes the creation and installation of gothic arch windows, porthole windows, and much more. So if you’d like to learn about the types of projects we can assist with and the benefits of using aluminium as a material for your project, then you’re in the right place. 

Please get in touch either by dropping us an email or giving us a call on 01623 721 172, and our team will get back to you. 

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