NC Milling Machine

Brief Introduction to NC Milling Machine

A milling machine is a machine tool for rotating a cutter (milling cutter) to produce flat or formed surfaces on a work-piece, usually by moving the work past the cutter. And the NC milling machine is the traditional milling machine equipped with state of an art system of NC (numerical control) feature. But nowadays, a more advanced system has emerged to substitute the NC milling machine. That is to say, CNC (computer numerical control) milling machines are now the trend.

What is a Numerical Control Machine?

NC milling machines and NC lathe machines are obsolete and outdated products back in the times of 1960. Numerical control, commonly known as the NC is very widely used in machine tools. This programmable automation is employed for the operation of the machines in case of machine tool malfunctions. In other words, the numerical control machines are capable of executing the machining operations according to the programs and at the same time monitor the entire machining process.

In numerical control methods, the numbers form the basic program instructions for different types of jobs; hence the name numerical control is given to this type of programming. The program instructions of the job also change when the type of job changes. It is easier to write new instructions for each job simultaneously since NC provides lots of flexibility in its use. The NC technology can be applied to a broad extent of operations like assembly, inspection, drafting, sheet metal working, et cetera.

Yet, numerical control is more noticeably used for myriad metal machining processes like milling, turning, drilling, and shaping, et cetera. Thanks to the NC system, all the machining operations can be executed at a rapid rate leading to bulk manufacturing, and the price is becoming quite cheaper as well. To add something interesting to the topic, what are the NC motion control systems? In NC machining, the three basic types of motion control systems include point-to-point control, straight cut control, and contouring control system. Point-to-point systems have the lowest level of motion control to both the machining tool and the workpiece whereas contouring control has the highest level of control over the equipment.

Types of NC Systems

The original numerical control machines were referred to as NC machine tools. They are hardwire-controlled through which the control is carried out by means of the use of punched paper (or plastic) tapes or cards. Tapes tend to deteriorate and become dirty, thus bring about misreading. A certain number of problems tend to emerge from the application of NC tapes. For example, the need to manually reload the NC tapes for each new part, and the lack of program editing abilities increase the production lead time. The NC tapes aim at achieving two competing goals: the CNC and DNC. Machine controls are divided into three groups:

● Traditional numerical control (NC);
● Computer numerical control (CNC);
● Distributed numerical control (DNC).

The advent of the CNC Machines

In CNC machining, the programs fed into the computer were utilized to control the operations of the machines. Thus the control unit used can read the punched cards in the NC machines. This process is significantly simplified by the microcomputer in the CNC machines. The CNC brought a breathtaking revolution in the manufacturing industry. The next development has been the combination of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided designing (CAD) called CAD/CAM.

Principles of CNC and Traditional Machining

The Numerical Control system consists of both software and hardware. The operator works with the software to keep an eye on the machine tools and to create programs. Numerical Control programs are lists of instructions indicating how the machine should work to process parts. The NC hardware reads the program and tells the machine tool what to do next and how to produce it. Traditional machining suggests that the operator directly controls all the machine tool’s motion. The operator has the power to decide when to move the machine. He or she also gets to determine where, and when to feed or to stop. The operator used special rulers and evaluations that are embedded in the control levers for better accuracy.

Advantages of CNC Machines

The technology of computer-controlled machining has developed over the past few decades and its current form is highly advanced in terms of precision, automation, and production speed. Some of the advantages provided by the most recent type of CNC machining include: 

● Decreased number of machines required for a particular project owing to computer-controlled networks
● Semi- or fully automatic quality control and equipment inspection systems
● Capabilities for CNC program modification for increased adaptability and a broader range of machining tasks
● Convoluted and intricate part fabrication with greater precision and faster turnover rates
● Less need for extended and tedious machining trial runs under CNC programs

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