Key technologies and types of numerical control machining

Using automatization for producing watches

In an age of rapid development of information technologies and computer-aided designs, it became possible to greatly simplify the manufacturing of certain parts from virtually any material. If back in the 60s of the last century manufacturing automation was a pure fiction, as early as the end of the 70s computer numerical control (CNC) systems began to appear.

CNC control systems allow assigning the program of operation of the machine tool in the form of a series of numbers and letters that encode certain commands of technological processing and laws of movement of working parts of the machine tool. The program of operation of the machine tool can be written on different data carriers, whether it is the first versions of punch cards and ending with DXF files, as well as with sophisticated computer programs, created in computer-aided design (CAD) systems.

Practically any type of equipment for machining: lathes, milling machines, pressing and engraving machines, plasma and laser cutting complex machines can be controlled by computer numerical control system.

Numerical control milling machines

Numerical control milling machines
This equipment is designed for machining of various sheet materials using a special tool – milling cutter. Different kinds of materials like plastic, graphite, aluminum, copper, iron, steel or wood can be processed by milling.

Milling cutters are metal tools of various shapes with multiple cutting teeth. Rotating at a high speed, they process the material, cutting, drilling, cutting out and engraving it according to the set program, controlled by the CNC operator.

Depending on the position of the working tool, milling can be vertical or horizontal. Universal machine tools, enabling milling complex parts at any angle, using different milling cutters have gained widespread use.

CNC milling machines are modern high-tech equipment that can provide the necessary productivity and excellent material processing quality. The use of CNC machine tools increases the level of safety and culture of manufacturing and does not require from the machine tool operator virtuosity and high level of professionalism.

CNC lathes

CNC lathes
Metal turning is one of the most popular services in many developed areas of modern industry, while various types of lathes for many centuries are the most popular equipment at manufacturing sites. According to statistics, more than 60% of all parts of ferrous and non-ferrous metals are processed on lathe equipment. In recent years, standard lathes on the market are considerably surpassed by more modern multifunctional CNC lathing centers and machines, allowing achieving high-accuracy processing.

Innovative machines with computer numerical control (CNC) belong to a new generation of turning equipment and allow within a short time performing high-precision metal turning in accordance with the given program. Due to the capability to combine several CNC machine tools into a large production line, this kind of lathe equipment is most commonly used at large enterprises, equipped with automated production lines. Structurally, CNC machine tool is supplemented with operator panel, display, memory and controller – a computerized device that forms the toolpath of the cutting tool in accordance with the available data.

Cutting and engraving complex machines

complex machines
Advantages of the laser machining over cutting led to the appearance of laser-engraving machines. The operating principle of these machines is very similar to that of CNC milling machines. Laser machine also has a monolithic body, horizontal work table and movable tool portal above it, with laser head (analogue of spindle with cutter). Movement of the portal (and accordingly, of the laser head) is generated by means of stepper motors under the influence of the control pulses, generated by the CNC system (in accordance with the machine tool code stored in the machine tool’s memory). CNC processor also controls the power of the laser beam and ensures the functioning of other machine components.

A focused laser beam carries a sufficient concentration of energy to penetrate the work material. Under the influence of the beam, the material in the processing zone can melt, evaporate, ignite or otherwise change its structure, virtually disappearing. In this case, the process resembles machining with the only difference – the cutting tool is replaced by a beam, while material wastage is not discharged in the form of chips, but is “vaporized”. With a sufficient power (and/or a small thickness of the material), the laser beam is capable of cutting through. With a lower power it can leave a clear trail (engraved pattern) on the surface.