Mankind can do some amazing things these days, and it’s all thanks to advancements in precision CNC machining. But the industry wasn’t always the high-tech, futuristic arena that it is today. Way back when machinists were forced to handle small batch projects using mostly manual machines and common sense. Now, they can manage massive orders and never sacrifice quality as a result.
So, how do they do it? To understand, you must know a little bit about the history of precision machining. Plus, you should probably learn what it is (and isn’t).
What is precision machining?
Precision is synonymous with accuracy, and accuracy is essential in CNC machining. Therefore, precision CNC machining involves numerous processes to add, remove, or alter materials from a workpiece. Experts are required to maintain close tolerance finishes, even on delicate micromachining projects. So, they often use a variety of tools, techniques, and machines to do it.
Precise CNC manufacturing means that every part – regardless of its size, shape, or purpose – meets or exceeds the industry standard. All machined components have exact dimensions despite also having complex geometries. Meanwhile, the most prepared CNC machine shops can handle tolerances as tight as +/- .0005 and can master repeatability to create thousands of identical parts without error.
A brief history of precision CNC machining
CNC manufacturing wasn’t always so reliable and fancy. Back in the day, the concept of “computer numerical control” was too foreign to imagine. Machinists calculated and adjusted everything by hand, which meant there was plenty of human error to fill the margin. Machined parts would sometimes break or malfunction as a result, so industry regulations became stauncher over time.
That led to hundreds of CNC machine shops closing down as they fell behind the newly raised standards. At the same time, well-equipped facilities began to thrive with spill-over business from the closed shops. Only the strongest survived. So, profit influxes and newly encouraged talent then made way for better machining ideals, which ultimately led to increased accuracy and speed.
The later inclusion of automation only made things faster and easier. Machinists no longer had to calculate much of anything by hand but were instead supported by innovative and intuitive technologies. This significantly reduced the margin of error on each new project, and it made CNC manufacturing a major part of our economy once more.
Today, the best CNC machine shops use complex software and automatic quoting programs to determine the best approach to each order. And because of all the advancements that have been made over the years, machinists can also combine and/or customize their techniques to suit special requests.
Plus, one-stop CNC facilities can provide rapid prototyping (RP) services to help cut costs and reduce waste. That, in turn, has helped keep the door open for even greater manufacturing and design possibilities.
DID YOU KNOW: Reputable facilities with enough room and plenty of high-tech equipment can serve the medical, automotive, ammunitions, and aerospace industries at the same time.
Fun facts about precision CNC machining
History can be kind of boring when you’re not interested in how things developed. Still, it’s important to understand the way something affects another, especially when you’re talking about the processes that make or break almost everything in the physical world. CNC precision machining is crucial to our survival as a sophisticated species, and that’s why these four facts are fun learn:
#1. This stuff dates back to the Industrial Revolution.
Historians can trace modern machining back to the Industrial Revolution, but earlier signs of attempted manufacturing were discovered in nearly every part of the world. However, older techniques were both time-consuming and costly, which is another reason why mankind worked so hard to change that.
#2. The first machining was done using only light and water.
Our ancestral machinists would use light and water to grind down granite and flatten or smooth its surface. According to legends, artisans could achieve accuracy within the hundred-thousandths of an inch this way. However, the results were seldom uniform and it took a very long time to complete.
#3. Water-powered machines were used in the 4th century BC.
We also find evidence that people were harnessing the power of water for CNC machining since ancient times. Using a hydro-wheel and mill, citizens from the Persian Empire (modern-day Iraq and Iran) would grind and shape different materials to build various practical and decorative objects.
#4. Modern machining is the most accurate it has ever been.
Contemporary CNC machining took a quantum leap with the invention of complex manufacturing software. After multiple readings are taken and experts have a look at the deviations, most modern machines can handle tolerances of 0.020mm or tighter. Oddly enough, water and light are still involved.
Precision CNC machine shops have come a long way since the beginning, with more sophisticated tools and better machining techniques all around. And while some facilities might not be able to keep up with the high technological demands, many of them can.
For more information on how to harness today’s manufacturing methods for your benefit, contact an expert at Pioneer Cuts today.
NOTE: Thanks to advancements in manufacturing technology and machining software, Pioneer Cuts can provide a detailed project quote in as little as six hours.
Putting it all together
Precision machining makes a big difference in what our species can accomplish together. We now know that it takes a combination of skill, preparedness, and equipment to handle complex projects without error. So, it’s important to work with the best CNC machine shops you can find. Only then can you take advantage of all the technological advancements we’ve made over the years.