CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders. The CNC in CNC Machining stands for Computer Numerical Control.
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) refers to - manipulating traditional machines by the use of computer systems. Since computers are used to control machines, it means that all major operations of production can be automated to increase speed and quality of manufacturing.
Almost any material can be used in a CNC machine. It really depends on the application. Common materials include metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and titanium, as well as wood, foam, fiberglass, and plastics such as polypropylene.
Creating a part on a CNC mill is a three phase process. The part is drawn in a CAD(Computer Aided Design) drawing program such as AutoCAD. Then a CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) program is used to convert the CAD drawing to G-Code. Finally, the G-code controls the CNC mill as it makes the part.
5 Common Applications of a CNC Drilling Machine:
- Metal Fabrication
- Wood Manufacturing
- Computer Parts and Components Manufacturing
- Electrical Industry
- Plastics Manufacturing
Milling is the most common form of machining, a material removal process, which can create a variety of features on a part by cutting away the unwanted material. The milling process requires a milling machine, work piece, fixture, and cutter.
Electro Discharge Machining (EDM) is an electro-thermal non-traditional machining process, where electrical energy is used to generate electrical spark and material removal mainly occurs due to thermal energy of the spark. EDM can be used to machine difficult geometries in small batches or even on job-shop basis.
Virtually any conductive material can be cut using Wire EDM. This would include all metals, including steel, aluminum, brass, titanium, and alloys and super alloys of all types.
When using standard 0.010" O brass wire you can expect a consistent, reliable wire EDM cutting speed of approximately 18 to 20 inch/hour.
There are basically five different types of CNC machines:
- CNC Plasma Cutting Machine
- CNC Laser Cutting Machine
- CNC Milling Machine
- CNC Router Machine
- CNC Lathe Machine
All surfaces of the 3D model ("mesh") must be closed. Only Completely closed models can be printed. Else, the mesh needs to be closed or repaired.
- If your design has moving parts, then make sure you leave a space of at least 0.5 to 1 mm between them, so that the parts do not get glued together during printing and achieve the desired movement
- Please make sure that minimum thickness of any wall/ part to be 1mm. This problem arises when you design a bigger part and scale it down drastically.
You can use any of the 3D Modeling softwares, as long as you follow the basic design guidelines given above and export the output as .stl file.
A list of some of the softwares that you can use for Designing your 3D Model
Free 3D Design Softwares
Google Sketchup: Easy to learn, create and export your 3D Models. SketchUp Make is a free version and SketchUp Pro is a paid version with additional functionality. Works in Windows and Mac
Tinker Cad: Simple Browser based Software that can help you create complex stuff using very simple tools.
Blender: A free, powerful open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Works in Windows, Linux and Mac
OpenScad: A free software for programmers for creating Solid 3D CAD objects. Works in Windows, Linux and Mac.
Netfabb Studio Basic: Free software for STL file slicing, repair. Works in Windows, Linux, Mac. Netfabb also provides a free cloud based mesh repair module.
123D Design: A powerful suite of Apps/ tools from Autodesk. You can create a 3D model from scratch or pick a 3D model from the library and customize it to your liking. Works in Windows, Mac and browser.
Free CAD: An open source parametric 3D modeling software that allows easy parametric editing of your design. Works in Windows, Linux and Mac
Sculptris: A free digital sculpting tool ideal for starters in digital sculpting from Pixologic, the makers of ZBrush. Works in Windows and Mac
3D Tin: A Browser based program using WebGL.
Commercial 3D Design Softwares
Rhino: A Popular 3D modeling software based on curves, using NURBS mathematical modeling. Works in Windows and Mac.
Maya: High end 3D modeling tool to create complex models and has additional functionalities like rigging, dynamics and animation. Works in Windows and Mac.
Solidworks: An advanced 3d modeling software, suitable for mechanical, industrial product design that require high precision. Works in Windows and Mac.
3DS Max: A comprehensive 3D modeling, animation, simulation, and rendering software. Works in Windows.
Autocad: Great CAD design and documentation tool, ideal for architects, engineers and product designers. Works in Windows and Mac.
ZBrush: A digital sculpting and painting program with powerful features and intuitive workflows. Works in Windows and Mac.
Netfabb Professional: an advanced software for professional editing of 3D printing data. Helps in fixing 3D models and reduce risk of failed builds and wasted material. Works in Windows, Linux and Mac.
Mudbox: A popular digital sculpting and digital painting software from Autodesk. Works in Windows, Linux and Mac.
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