There is a growing trend where small businesses are venturing into the manufacturing sector. Advancements in 3D printing and CNC machining have allowed small businesses to create rapid prototypes of machine components. For example, biotech companies can use 3D printing to mold prosthetic prototypes while car manufacturers can use CNC machining to generate prototypes of engine components.
What is CNC Machining?
CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. A CNC machine can mold an object with the utmost precision because it uses a numerical code to improve accuracy.
The machine uses a cutter to shape both wood and metal. Another feature of a CNC machine is that it can work on multiple axles. On average, CNC machines have three to five axles. The axles make the machine more precise and allow for it to complete very complex projects.
What is the Difference between CNC Machining and 3D Printing?
CNC prototypes are fabricated by removing parts from the main material while 3D printing items are forged by slowly adding components until the main material attains the desired shape.
How to Fabricate a CNC Prototype
First, you’ll have to create a three dimensional file of the item you want to fabricate using computer-aided design software. Then, connect your computer to the CNC device. There should be a program that allows you to operate the CNC machine from your computer. Next, find the raw material. Are you going to use a block of wood or metal? Then, place the metal or wooden block on the CNC machine and hold it in place using the hydraulic clamps.
Once the item is in place, begin the cutting process. The machine will cut the block according to the specifications in the 3D file. Stand back and watch the machine do its work. After the machine completes cutting the block, it will polish it for a refined finish.
CNC Prototyping Processes
CNC generally involves three main tasks:
Milling: This is whereby the CNC machine removes material from the main block to produce multiple parts.
Turning: Here the machine removes materials from a moving main block. The main material is placed inside a cylindrical rod, which rotates in a clockwise direction. This method is used to create rounded components.
5-Axis Milling: The process is similar to milling. Here, the machine removes material from a stationary object. However, unlike regular milling, the cutter molds the object with more tilt and precision. It can create geometric shapes with more sides.
Advantages of CNC Prototyping
In manufacturing, a product has to go through multiple stages before it’s completed and ready for launch. The stages help to refine the product. A CNC machine allows you to create rapid prototypes for every stage. Those prototypes are functional and can be tested and improved to make the final product better. It’s also cheaper to build prototypes using CNC machines.
CNC prototypes are of high quality and can be used in a presentation or explanation of the product. The machine can polish the surface to make it smooth and flawless. CNC machines can also anodize metals to protect them from rust and external factors.
CNC machines can work for days. If you have to produce hundreds of components for a prototype, the machine can work overnight by itself. It will continue producing prototypes without slowing down.
CNC machines can work with a variety of materials. It can work with both steel and aluminum. It can work with expensive tough materials. As a result, it has limitless possibilities.
To conclude, CNC prototypes are used in manufacturing to test the functionality of a component. You can fabricate a CNC prototype with minimal supervision. After creating your 3D image, connect your laptop to the CNC machine. Then, place the block that needs modification on the machine and initiate the molding process. After a few hours, your prototype will be ready.