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Overview: How CNC machining works?

What Is CNC Machining

CNC is the abbreviation of "computer numerical control", CNC machining is a kind of manufacturing process that instructs the operation of equipment and tools through programmed computer. This process can control various complicated machinery, such as CNC milling machine, CNC lathe, CNC laser machine, water jet machine, electric discharge machine (EDM), to complete the three-dimensional cutting task.

How CNC Machining Works

After activating the CNC system, the product file will be programmed into the software and assigned to the corresponding tools and machinery. These tools and machinery will perform the specified cutting tasks. The CNC machining process includes the following stages:
- Design CAD Model
- Convert CAD file to CNC program
- Prepare CNC machine and tools
- CNC Machining operations

CNC Machining Gif
Main Processes Of CNC Machining

- CNC Milling: Use a multi-point rotating tool to remove material from the workpiece. Basic mills consist of a 3-axis system (X, Y and Z), which is still one of the most popular and widely used machining processes. In 3-axis machining, the workpiece remains fixed, and the rotating tool cuts along the x, y, and z axes. Meanwhile, most newer mills can accommodate two additional axis, 4-axis CNC machining and 5-axis CNC machining have higher versatility, and they are often used in the production of high-precision parts.

- CNC Turning: Use a single-point cutting tools to remove material from the rotating workpiece. In CNC turning, the CNC machine, typically a lathe or turning machine, feeds the cutting tool in a linear motion along the surface of the rotating workpiece, removing material around the circumference until the desired diameter is achieved. Most CNC lathes consist of two axis, X and Z.

Features of CNC Machining

Advantages
Fast and Repeatable
Quick removal of large amounts of metal material, parts ready as fast as 1 day
Scalable Volume
CNC Machining has scalable volumes for production of 1-100,000 parts.
Accuracy
High-precision tolerances ranging from +/-0.005″ – 0.01″, depending on customer specs.
Custom Surface Finishes
Suitable for many different kinds of substrates, make your parts just the same as real products.
Wide Range of Materials
Choose from over 50 metal and plastic materials.
Cost Saving
Low investment in tooling and preparation costs, economical for parts with simple structure.
Drawbacks
Structure Limits
Interlocking and hollowed structure is difficult to be machined with CNC.
Scale Effect
The unit cost and lead time will not be reduced as much as injection molded parts.

CNC Common materials

Metal

Aluminum (4 types)
Brass (1 types)
Copper (1 types)
Mild steel (3 types)
Alloy steel (3 types)
Tool steel (6 types)
Spring steel (1 types)

Plastic

ABS (3 types)
Polycarbonate (PC) (1 types)
Nylon (2 types)
Polypropylene (PP) (1 types)
POM (Delrin/Acetal) (1 types)
PTFE (Teflon) (1 types)
PMMA (Acrylic) (1 types)
Polyethylene (PE) (1 types)
PEEK (1 types)
Bakelite (1 types)
Rubber (1 types)

Custom Sourced Materials

A variety of CNC machined metal and plastic part options are available for an instant online quote. If you do not see the material stock you are looking for, please choose "Custom" under the material drop-down on your quote page and submit for an expert engineering review once you have specified features, tolerances, inspection needs, and quantities required.

Available Finishes

Standard (As-Milled) (Ra 125μin)
Bead blast + Anodized color
Anodized
Electrically conductive oxidation
Black oxide
Brushed
Bead Blast
Spray painting - Matt paint
Spray painting - High gloss paint
Powder Coat
Chrome plating
Galvanization
Nickel plating
Silver plating
Gold plating
Tin plating
Vacuum plating
#1000 sanding
Silkscreen
Laser engraving
Smooth machining (Ra1.6µm, 63 µin)
Chem Film (Chromate conversion coating)
Electrophoresis
Passivation
Etching
Electropolished (Ra0.8µm, 32µin)
PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition)
Pickling
Others
Dyeing

CNC orientation and form general tolerances

Unless we have agreed to other tolerances in your Quote, we will work to achieve and hold the tolerances noted below, which will vary per the primary manufacturing method you select. (eg.:Round hole 10mm, tolerance +0.01—0.03mm)
Part Length Orientation and Form Tolerance Angularity Tolerance
0 to 12"(300 mm) +/- 0.005" (0.125 mm) Angularity +/- ½ degree
12" to 24"(600 mm) +/- 0.010" (0.250 mm) Angularity +/- ½ degree
24" - 36"(900 mm) +/- 1/64" (0.016")(0.400 mm) Angularity +/- 1 degree
36" - 60"(1500 mm) +/- 1/32" (0.031") Angularity +/- 1 degree
Over 60" +/- 1/16" (0.063") Angularity +/- 1 degree
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Size limitations for CNC machining

Item Part size / dimension
Maximal part size 1000 mm (40in)
Minimal part size 2 mm (0.08 in)
Minimal diameter 0.3 mm (0.01 in)