The Role of CNC Machines in the Making of Prototypes


CNC machining is amazingly diverse and is used in a variety of modern industries. From aerospace to electronics to the military, CNC machining plays a significant part in manufacturing and development.

The Covid-19 crisis hit the economy hard, but CNC machining kept many businesses afloat and prevented layoffs. The CNC industry is at the forefront of business innovation. It is used in all phases of the manufacturing process, but it has become especially useful in creating prototypes.

Tom Kohm, President & CEO of Premier Equipment, explains, “Almost every product that is made from metal starts with a prototype that uses a combination of manual equipment and CNC machines. Many companies that have a brilliant idea or invention will either hire a manufacturing shop to produce a prototype or the company will purchase their own machine with a programmer to develop a prototype.”

In the last couple years, the manufacturing industry has been under pressure to produce more, have goods cost less, and not eliminate workers. Global competition has placed businesses in a tough spot where they want to retain talent and meet customer expectations. That is where advanced manufacturing helps to meet both goals.

Machines are no longer just the tool but the craftsperson itself. Devices can be tailored to work both on the physical side, such as consolidating tool measurement and the software side, where smarter machines can customize and monitor themselves. An advanced system can catch an error long before a human would have noticed it.

Machines can also train the workforce on how best to use more advanced technology. In this way, instead of craftspeople being laid off, they can be retrained and learn new skills. This is all without the risk that manufacturing can bring. We eliminate the dangers of repetitive movement injuries, pathogen exposure, and industrial accidents.

Increasingly businesses are turning to CNC factories to produce prototypes. There are several reasons for this decision.

  •  Automation- Machines can be left unattended for long periods. When you are trying to decrease the cost of a risky prototype, CNC machine shops are more cost-effective.
  • Customization- When you are creating a prototype, you are often using parts that have never been used before. CNC manufacturing allows you to customize features any way you'd like them. It is easy to make the parts bigger, smaller, rounder, or more angular. You have better control over your product.
  • Precision-The machines are going to craft the prototype exactly the way the engineers envisioned it. It is going from the blueprint to its physical form based on the same computer files and 3-D models used to design it. This also allows for high repeatability if more prototypes are needed.
  • Flexibility- In an uncertain world, needs can change quickly. Machine formation makes it extremely easy to make design changes without scraping the entire product and starting again. The design is already saved. You can make your changes safely and efficiently.

We live in a time when it feels like manufacturers are expected to do everything. They need to turn out prototypes fast, at a reasonable price, and that are exceptionally reliable. CNC manufacturing allows factories to have it all in one place.

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