CNC machining is a popular way of producing prototypes in many industries. Machinists will use CNC prototyping when the design of an object needs to be tweaked before it goes into mass production. It can be used to correct any issues that arise during the manufacturing process, which is the key to reducing frustration. CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process. This means a computer-controlled machining tool removes material from a block of material that is called workpiece. CNC machines themselves vary in complexity. The more axes a machine has, the more complex the geometry it can cut into the workpiece.
Rapid prototyping is a computer-controlled technology that uses different methods to accumulate materials according to the principles of discrete and stacking, and finally completes the forming and manufacturing of parts. From a forming perspective, a part can be seen as a superposition of "points" or "faces". The geometric information of "point" or "surface" is discretized from the CAD electronic model. And combined with the information of the molding process's parameters, the material is accurately and regularly controlled from the point to the surface, and the accumulation of parts from the surface to the volume is realized. From a manufacturing perspective, it generates 3D geometric information of parts through CAD modeling, controls multi-dimensional systems, and stacks materials layer by layer to form prototypes or parts by laser beams or other methods.
Many industries are already using rapid prototyping CNC machining as the basis for their rapid prototyping, including:
1. Aerospace: From smaller and lighter drones to the parts needed to send capsules into space, the aerospace industry is in a state of constant iterative development. While 3D printing can be used to create conceptual model validation, CNC machining is still needed to make testable engineering prototypes through using the materials of the final product. These engineering prototypes then need to be able to have the specific tolerances required to test them under working conditions. This is especially important for vital parts of an aircraft, where failure of even a small component can be catastrophic.
2. Automotive industry: For many of the same reasons as the aerospace industry, the automotive industry makes heavy use of rapid prototyping CNC machining and CNC machining as part of this process. The use of rapid prototyping CNC machining enables automakers to create, test and iterate on the working parts of the engine by using the end-product material. New parts can be quickly adapted and machined to fit tight geometries and tolerances.