Computer numerical control machining is a manufacturing system that uses a combination of machining tools include computer input and computer control. The required parts are designed by using computer-aided design (CAD) software. These CAD designs are then translated into a series of instructions that can be understood by computer-controlled machining tools.
1. Rapid change of CAD design: One of the main benefits of rapid prototyping CNC machining is that it allows for rapid iteration of designs. This is in response to test feedback. This is especially true for CAD designs used to create G-code for CNC machining. Because CAD files are used to guide computer-controlled machining tools, designers can ensure that the dimensions of the parts produced exactly match those on the digital design. When changes need to be made, designers or engineers can make these adjustments to the new iterations of CAD file. This means that two iterations of a design can be compared side-by-side and even tested against each other by using simulation software.
2. Machining quality and consistency: Excluding strange errors, CNC machining tools are very precise and consistent. They are capable of milling shapes within a fraction of a millimeter. Equally important, this process can be done over and over again with no change in the results. This level of precision and consistency is important for interactive design and prototyping processes. Small changes to the design can be made based on feedback and testing. Furthermore, these designs can be produced without any other dimensional changes.
3. Rapid Prototyping production: Modern CNC machining services can produce a part in just a few hours. This makes them as fast as some 3D printing methods. Therefore, this makes rapid prototyping CNC machining ideal for products that require shorter lead times. This can lead to a rapid time-to-market for products.
4. No fixed tools: Unlike other traditional manufacturing methods such as die casting or injection molding, CNC prototyping does not require separate and specific tools and molds. Depending on the complexity of the part, it can take up to a month to create the tools and molds needed for prototype production, which is not ideal for a rapid prototyping process. Most modern CNC machines are provided with a wide variety of cutting inserts and milling cutters. However, these tools can be easily switched in and out. This reduces costs and significantly shortens lead times.
5. Large number of possible materials: Materials that can be cut to shape in a CNC machine are only limited by their stiffness and melting temperature. This means that a wide variety of materials can be used in rapid prototyping CNC machining.