Long before the industrial revolution, people have been inventing new ways to make products faster and better. Since the development of factories and the introduction of mass production, new technology is constantly added to fuel growth and output. Much of the technology today allows businesses to automate a portion of the work that used to take laborers long hours to complete. The machines also reduce some of the risks that were common with any manufacturing job.
One such advancement is the computer programmed CNC or computer numerical control machine. This technology is not a simple single-job tool, however. It is used in many industries and is growing in popularity. CNC can be used to program 3D printers, cloth cutting machines, and most commonly, CNC sheet metal cutting. This is used to manufacture parts more quickly that a worker could, freeing them up to work on assembly and installation.
Depending on what the machine is needed for, programmers use CAD (computer-aided design) software to build a digital model of what the machine needs to build. This can either be a flat cut of metal or a complicated 3D piece.
Once the model is built, the programmer uses CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software to generate toolpaths that the CNC machine can understand. This program will give specific directions to the machine, automating each detail into a process that can be done more quickly and efficiently with this technology.
Though it would be difficult to walk into a machine shop and watch this in action, there are many videos online showing examples of what can be made with this apparatus. Aside from regular manufacturing, businesses like Baltimore Knife and Sword sometimes use this in their production of custom weapons and stage combat pieces. Their YouTube channel often showcases them using this machine.
The use of computer-aided machining is already fully embedded in our lives. From 3D-printed medical parts to swords to pieces of cars, people are using things produced by these machines each day.