What is CNC Machining?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that uses programmed computer software, instead of manual control, to guide the machinery, ultimately creating the part you need. Much like 3D printing, it turns the virtual part design in the computer software program into the physical part.

However, the way it works is very different from 3D printing. For example, you may begin with a large block of carving foam, but once it is manufactured through CNC machine processes, it could become a piece of insulation or packaging for electronics.

Custom CNC machining is used in a variety of industries — especially industries where pieces are mass-produced and need to meet specific requirements, such as a preferred level of tolerance. For example, you’ll find that a certain type of CNC machining is used to create insulation pieces, automotive parts, and even the tiniest and most delicate pieces in small electronics. In the aerospace and military industries, where demands are high, CNC machining is used to develop parts that meet those demands with accuracy and precision.

What industries use CNC Machines?

Aerospace:

Devices in the aerospace industry encounter varied conditions, including high speeds, fast air currents and extreme air pressures. To avoid aircraft damage, engineers must construct each component with the most precise tools and parts. Even a small mistake could catch on an air current, producing drag or increasing wear on the parts.

Aerospace CNC machining must meet incredibly precise requirements, such as tolerances as tight as 0.00004 inches. Machinists must adhere to such tolerances with the extra-durable industry-standard materials such as titanium, aluminum, nickel and some plastics. Exact materials depend on the parts being created and the required properties for that CNC component.

The aerospace and aviation industry uses various parts for aircraft and aircraft service devices, including:

Manifolds

Airfoils

Bushings

Electrical connectors

Landing gear parts

CNC: Aerospace Landing Gear

Antennae

CNC Machining a Mars Curiosity Rover Antenna.

By embracing CNC machining for creating components, the aerospace industry gets the customized parts it needs with the extremely tight tolerances it requires. Without being able to design and manufacture precise components, the air and space industry may not have reached its current technological level. Having an easy means of creating experimental pieces is critical to future safety and success.

CNC machining is also an ideal method for manufacturing aerospace part prototypes. Viewing the 3D image on a computer allows the engineer to test the part’s functionality and make quick changes if necessary. Once finalized, engineers can begin the CNC machining process for rapid part production. The transition from individual to mass production of parts for the aviation or aerospace industry becomes simple with the use of CNC machines throughout the process.

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