CNC machining centres (Computer Numerical Control) have been around for a very long time now and they have become the workhorse in many manufacturing environments. Capable of exchanging a wide variety of tools through the use of automatic tool changers, and controlled by precision ball screws driving all of the axes of the machine, these machine tools are capable of performing highly complex work very quickly as compared to manual machine operation.
There are many different CNC equipment variants on the market, none of which should be confused with machining centers. There are grinders, lathes, and others, but the former two pieces of equipment can be purchased in horizontal or vertical spindle sizes. The horizontal machining spindles utilize a rotary 4’TH axis table, and the vertical machining centres will have the option but not the requirement for a 4’TH.
For the most part, those machines designed to carry out milling, drilling, tapping, and boring jobs to form raw material in to useable factory parts are created in several different sizes. For instance you could having something as small as a drill press all the way to the larger boring style machinery. Such machines will be outfitted with complex consoles that can be programmed easily and when they are programmed, they will perform their job without human intervention.
With the high levels of computing power available on these machining centres today, these machine tools are capable of producing a very wide variety of parts from components pieces to very large dies for stamping or molding. Very complex physical features such as a spiral spline, very complex mold contours and cavities, thread milling, back boring, and a whole host of other operations can be performed with some programming creativity.
These machines can perform with a continuous motion along the cutter path, and they can do so while creating intricate designs. With manual equipment, some of the cuts made by the more sophisticated machines would be utterly impossible. There is the positional accuracy to consider, a factor that allows the bending of complex surfaces which would not be an option with manual tools unless one were to go to great expense. That being the case, these machines will not only work on production lines, but also work in the creation of prototypes.
Controlling the spindle speed should come easily as a console will have different settings programmed into it. There are different speeds for every cutting tool, and the software should be able to recommend the appropriate speed for every tool in the spindle.
The majority of CNC machines have some type of coolant system such as a flood or mist that sprays throughout the spindle. This provides the cutting tool the cooling that it needs throughout the length of the job. Keep in mind that excessive heat can wear heavily on the cutting tool, and in the end, the finished product could be affected severely.
Because of the inherent reliability, consistency, and repeatability, CNC machining centres are often run on the plant floor as a group of machines operated by a single machine operator that loads and unloads parts while checking on the finished quality of the part coming off the machine. Advanced machine tools are available that have automatic part loaders, unloaders, and inspection probes that can further reduce the need for a machine operator to intervene in the machining process thereby creating an unattended machining environment.
For more info, please visit our web page on Horizontal Machining Centres.