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About CNC Machining

injection-moldingCNC (Computerized Numerical Control) Machining is an automated process by which a machine processes a computer file to create highly complex object from plastic or metal.

A tool, much like a drill bit, is used to cut away a metal or plastic block in the shape of a 3D object or a mold to be later used in the plastic injection process. Cutting away at an object is a process called subtractive manufacturing because you start with a solid piece of metal or plastic and subtract from it to create the specified part or object.

The tool is controlled along multiple linear or rotational axes. The more axes a machine can control, the more complex part can be made. A 3 axis machine can cut linearly along the X axis (width), the Y Axis (length) and Z axis (depth). Additional axes simply add rotation to the tool along the X, Y or Z axis which allows for more complex parts to be manufactured.

Prior to the invention of computers, these axes were controlled manually by a human operator. Today, a 3D model is translated into a series of step-by-step instructions the CNC machine can use to create the model out of metal or plastic. It's a highly automated process that allows the machine to move the tool along its various axes.

Some examples of different types of CNC machines are:

  • Mills
  • Lathes
  • Laser Cutters
  • Plasma Cutters
  • Electrical Discharge Machines
  • Routers
  • Grinders