How Have CNC Metal Cutting Machine Trends Changed Modern Manufacturing?

Posted by KBV Research on March 20th, 2020

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) metal-cutting machines are growing in popularity across the manufacturing sector. In the past, many manufacturers have used machines that have been controlled by qualified engineers. Currently, nevertheless, computers make it possible for people with less training to operate and control CNC machines.

Recent advances in digital technology, particularly embedded systems, have now enabled companies to make low-cost machines for real-time applications. In today's CNC metal cutting machine protocols, the production of parts has been mostly automated through pre-programmed software. The specifications of the component are set up with computer-aided design (CAD) software and then translated to the actual finished product with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software.

What is a CNC metal cutting machine?

CNC metal cutting is a manufacturing procedure in which pre-programmed computer software controls the movement of factory equipment and machines. The process may be used to regulate a range of complex machines, from grinders and lathes to mills and routers. With CNC machining, three-dimensional cutting tasks can be performed in a single set of commands.

The CNC process runs in contrast to and supersedes the drawbacks of manual control, where live operators are required to prompt and direct commands of machine tools through levers, buttons, and wheels. To onlookers, the CNC system may imitate a standard collection of computer parts, but the software programs and consoles used in CNC machining differentiate it from all other types of computation.

CNC metal cutting machine for manufacturing

CNC metal cutting machines can run 24 hours a day and throughout the year. The only time the systems need to be turned off is when they have to be repaired. A computer-controlled system can be programmed to create products that look the same in their hundreds and thousands. This has made it easier to achieve mass production of the products. These machines can be improved by upgrading the software that drives the machine. Also, modern software removes the need to produce prototypes. This enables manufacturers to save both time and money.

While it is true that a highly skilled engineer can often produce similar products, a close look at the end products will disclose some differences. The CNC metal cutting machine solves this problem by producing the products as an exact match. Supervision is limited when using computer-controlled machines. Once the machines are programmed, they can also be left to operate on their own. Only a few tools will have to be replaced occasionally.

Top trends that accelerate the adoption of CNC metal cutting machines:

Enhanced machining equipment

Integrating intelligent software such as CAM and other tools into traditional hardware controllers helps offset the training and development difficulties of the workforce. While this equipment can also be costlier, with annual licenses for embedded software, it can greatly improve what an operator can do, as well as reduce the risks of an operator error. This ensures efficiencies like increased throughput and reduced employment barriers. Newer operating platforms, such as those for CNC lathes, machines, brakes and cutters, have been upgraded with faster processing speed. This increased speed allows more smooth inputs and feedback for operators.

Better tooling and fixturing

Vacuum fixtures are usually used only as needed for projects that are difficult to secure — or simple to deform — with a standard function. Vacuum fixture, or vacuum plate, has an internal valve where the hose will draw suction and a grooved surface with gaskets or O-rings to generate even negative pressure around a component or blank. This pressure will keep the component in place even when machined.

Workholding suppliers like Pierson have created universal databases called SmartVac that can be customized for several operations without a custom build per part. Vacuum fixtures like these are incredibly effective for initial machining operations because they provide a turnkey alternative to a target. Many of these universal models can also be quickly improved by adding customized top plates to repeat work at a fraction of the cost versus making a complete fixture from scratch.

Robots and cobots

Robots have worked on factory floors in a variety of ways for years and years, and have typically been the best-served automation for high-volume production. This may include the use of robots to move parts in process or control end effectors that can be welded, riveted, painted, etc. Once programmed, the industrial robot operates independently and is enclosed for safety in the workplace.

Collaborative robots, also known as cobots, have become more widespread in smaller shop floors over the last few years and are increasing in popularity. The rise of cobots in CNC metal cutting machine shops will make employees more competitive without drastic infrastructural changes and intensive training. This equipment, along with improved tooling and fixtures options, will increase day-to-day production performance and at the same time reduce human error, which then increases overall shop deliverables.

A sneak peek into CNC metal cutting machine insights

Jul-2018: Okuma introduced a hybrid 3D printer CNC machine, a new tool for additive manufacturing. This machine combines the processes of both manufacturing methods for a high-precision object. The hybrid system allows part inspection and repair during manufacturing. Improved performance and resolution are achieved due to an infinitely variable regulation of laser spot diameters (0.4 to 8.5 mm).

May-2019: VENTIS-3015AJ, the first fiber laser cutting machine integrated with the Locus Beam Control technology, was launched by Amada. This machine improves the productivity and processing quality of steel and stainless steel.

Aug-2019: Hurco launched the latest versions of its VMXi Series of performance CNC machines. The new series includes VMX24Di (24x20x24-in.), VMX42Di (42x24x24-in.) and VMX30Di (30x20x24-in.). New versions of these systems offer a better surface finish, a lower head growth, and a quieter spindle. It also has a 15,000-rpm spindle, better acceleration and deceleration of the spindle, and improved chip-to-chip time (2000 rpm, 12-inch Z-travel in 4 seconds).

Dec-2019: DMG Mori unveiled the LASERTEC 125 3D hybrid system, a new 5-axis machining center with additive manufacturing capabilities. This system supports the manufacture, repair, and maintenance of workpieces.

Full Report:

The future of machining

The CNC metal cutting machine market is experiencing a progressive role in manufacturing. This technology enables machines to be guided by user-friendly applications. Controls integrate smoothly and quickly into a normal computer. Such machines are also used for milling, cutting, routing and drilling a wide variety of materials for a wide range of applications. Technology can be used for any project that needs accurate and effective mechanical movements.

CNC metal cutting machines make automated operations much simpler and much less inconvenient for people employed in these businesses. In a market that constantly requires shorter lead times and cheaper prices, innovations, including those in additive manufacturing, are equipping the machining workforce with the resources required to meet the challenges of the global marketplace.

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KBV Research
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