What will you think of when CNC Prototyping Come to Mind?

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When it comes to machined prototypes, CNC machining services will certainly come to mind firstly.If you need to prototype for your project, you may not know the difference between injection molding and Vacuum casting, but you must know what a CNC prototype is.

I once received a reply from a customer: we have our own CNC service. Our internal factory has three kinds of CNC milling machines and four-axis lathes with kinds of sizes, usually we are internal production prototypes. Thus, as long as you have a CNC machine, it can meet your basic prototype needs.

Indeed, for many prototype factories, CNC service is essential and is often an important measure of a factory’s size.

So what comes to mind when you think about CNC prototypes?

The most traditional reduction material manufacturing

CNC machining as the most traditional manufacturing method, CNC machined parts can be seen everywhere. Why so common for CNC prototypes? We must first understand the development history of CNC.

The birth of the world’s first electronic computer in 1946 demonstrated that humans have created tools that enhance and partially replace mental work. Compared with those tools that only enhance physical labor created by human beings in agricultural and industrial society, it has made a qualitative leap and laid a foundation for human beings to enter the information society.

Six years later, in 1952, computer technology was applied to machine tools, giving birth to the first CNC machine tools in the United States. Since then, the traditional machine tool has produced a qualitative change. Nearly half a century, the numerical control system has gone through two stages and six generations of development.

Numerical control (NC) stage (1952 ~ 1970)

With the development of components, the stage after three generations, that is, the first generation of 1952 – tube. The second generation, in 1959, was the transistor. The third generation in 1965 – small scale integrated circuits.

Computer numerical control (CNC) stage (1970 ~ present)

The computer numerical control stage also experienced three generations. The fourth generation in 1970  – minicomputers. The fifth generation in 1974 – the microprocessor and the sixth in 1990 – was based on PCS. By now, it is quite mature.

Stable quality, high precision parts

Among all the prototype processing methods, CNC prototype is undoubtedly the best choice for functional prototype. If your products have high requirements about good quality and high precision, perhaps only CNC machining can meet your needs. CNC machining parts in addition to high precision parts, CNC machining parts can have a complex structure, at the same time, there are many materials to choose from. Then how can CNC machined parts achieve stable quality and ultra-high precision of parts?

CNC machining process

Figure 1: CNC machining process

First of all, the raw materials of CNC machined parts are all sheet materials, which have been shaped and the quality is relatively stable. And the equipment is controlled by the computer, accurate positioning, the need to ensure the accuracy of multiple knife before processing. In order to meet the higher precision requirements of CNC machining parts, in addition to the traditional 3-axis machine tools, there are more and more multi-axis machine tools, which can achieve higher precision, because multi-axis with rotation can reduce the number of parts clamping, improve the positioning accuracy.

Cost Advantage

CNC machining in addition to the advantages of parts processing, CNC prototyping cost is also the reason why CNC machining is widely used. In the production of a small number of parts, CNC prototyping cost is the lowest among all processing methods, because CNC machining does not need to make molds, and does not need high material costs. If you want the most economical production mode, CNC prototyping cost is definitely the most satisfactory one.

Although the application of 3D printing has become more and more widespread, CNC prototype still enjoys absolute price advantage in processing, due to the high material requirements of this processing method. However, rapid injection molding and urethane vacuum casting due to the high cost of mold, they lose the important advantage in a few parts. Despite the impact of many processing methods, CNC machining still occupies an absolute dominant position in prototype manufacturing till now.

CNC prototype can largely meet people’s more personalized product customization. The progress of social civilization, the improvement of People’s Daily living standard, the pursuit of personalized material, gradually surfaced. If industrial products are the carrier of social progress, prototype is the cornerstone of engineering manufacturing.

When you have a good idea to implement and promote to the market, the prophase will surely have a long development process, continually test your design correctness, practicability, this time you need to use the prototype, the prototype is probably the appearance of the prototype appearance, it is possible that the functional prototype validation functions, such as whether can between prototype assembly is good, the appearance of the presence of defects, is sturdy, CNC prototype is nothing but the best choice at this time, when through the prototype test, you need to small batch production to further verify your design is practical and market acceptance, It is undoubtedly a waste of time and easy to lead to large-scale failure. At this time, although the CNC prototype lost its advantages, the main mold of remolding and rapid injection was still made by CNC machining, so in any case, CNC machining always occupies an important position in your entire product development process.

CNC service

Figure 2: CNC service

With the development of science and technology, more and more high-tech products come out, which means how much prototype production is invested in the early stage, so prototype production plays an important role in life. The hot industries are robots and medical devices, both of which are most suitable for CNC machining to make prototypes.

If you need to find a prototype manufacture company to process a project, you should first find out whether they can provide CNC service. If they do not even provide CNC service, then you can send an inquiry to another company.

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