Milling machines are a ubiquitous part of the manufacturing and machining landscapes. Traditionally, milling machines were operated by trained engineers. Today, milling machines can operate independently through the use of so-called computer-numerical control (CNC) technology.
CNC machines offer numerous benefits over traditional milling equipment. If you would like to learn more about why more and more fabricators in the metal and plastic industries are switching to CNC milling machines, read on. This article will discuss four key advantages they have over conventional milling machines.
1. Lower Labor Costs
As noted above, CNC milling machines do not require individual operators. Rather, once the desired cuts have been programmed, the computer operated machinery will carry them out independently. This means that a single programmer can oversee the working of many different CNC machines, including lathes, grinders, and routers, in addition to milling machines.
CNC milling also lowers labor costs by streamlining the process of setting up and completing cuts. Conventional milling machines required an operator to manually set the gears necessary for the desired cut. CNC milling does away with this time-consuming process by doing away with the need for gears altogether. This reduces the amount of work hours employees have to spend on a given task.
2. Higher Quality Results
The automated nature of CNC milling machines gives them clear advantages when it comes to the parts being manufactured. This advantage shows itself in terms of both accuracy and repeatability.
Accuracy refers to the CNC machine's ability to cut a piece as close as possible to the specific dimensions. The better the accuracy, the more likely it is that a given component will fall within the acceptable tolerance range.
Repeatability represents another key factor here. Also sometimes referred to as precision, repeatability designates a machine's ability to continue making accurate cuts piece after piece.
Because they are controlled by highly sophisticated computers, CNC milling machines offer much better results in terms of both accuracy and repeatability. Conventional machines tend to be more prone to error, since the quality of parts depends on the skill of the operator. This ends up costing you more, since it means a greater number of the parts you produce won't be suitable for use.
3. Improved Safety
All milling machines utilize sharp cutting tools in order to cut plastic or metal down to the desired shape. These cutting tools pose a serious risk of injury for the operator of a conventional milling machine. The repetitious nature of working a milling machine means that an operator can easily become injured if their attention wavers for even a second.
CNC milling machines remove this threat almost entirely. Employees no longer have to operate the machine at such a hands-on level. Instead, movements are safely guided by the computer at the heart of the machine. The only time a worker has to touch the machine is when replacing worn down cutting tools.
4. Better Future-Proofing
As you surely already know, computers increasingly power a wide range of industries. Their use will only continue to grow over time. A CNC milling machine allows for seamless integration with design software such as CAD-CAM. Integrating with CAD-CAM software may even improve the productivity of a milling machine by up to 50 percent, thanks to its ability to design and program high-speed tool paths for more efficient machining.
CNC milling machines have revolutionized the manufacturing industry, making it possible to generate components in a fraction of the time of conventional milling machines. For more information about how CNC milling machines can produce the plastic components you need, please contact the pros at DIXIE Rubber & Plastics.