What is CNC Turning?

CNC is an an acronym for Computer Numerical Control. This CNC technology used in conjunction with a lathe is what is broadly referred to as CNC Turning. For those new to CNC Turning and its capabilities, it is helpful to first conjure up an image of an old timber craftsman standing at a lathe which holds a raw piece of timber. As the lathe rotates on its axis the craftsman uses a variety of cutting tools to cut into the wood and create beautiful wood turnings. The quality of the work depends on the dexterity of the operator and requires extreme concentration and years of practice to become highly skilled.

CNC Turning basically replaces the craftsman with computer driven, cutting technology. The computer controls all the cutting in very precise, pre-programmed movements and sequences. The role of the craftsman has evolved to become the CNC operator, responsible for programming in the all the cutting sequences in a predetermined way. The concept is the same – a cutting tool is used parallel to the material being turned in the lathe. However with CNC turning the whole process has become fully automated. Both the cutting tools and the lathes have become more sophisticated allowing for all sorts of interesting cuts and curves on a variety of axis. Also a whole range of materials including heavy metal can be cut. CNC turning is particularly well suited to making custom parts for the automotive industry and components for the mining and resource industry but really any application is possible. Used in conjunction with CNC milling and CNC machining the range of possibilities are quite exciting.

The most obvious benefits of this new CNC Turning technology are greater accuracy and productivity. Accuracy is near perfect as all the movements are predetermined. The computer controls the angle, depth and width of the cut and the sequence can be repeated over and over again with almost perfect accuracy. Productivity is greater because it does not rely on the endurance of the operator and a whole sequence of instructions can be programmed in to the computer. If a change of lathe is not required, the finished product can be completed in one single set of instructions and then repeated over and over again to produce multiple CNC outputted products. The software allows for the file to be saved and used again for another production run when stock is depleted. All if this means the cost of production is significantly lower than manual production techniques, adding to the attractiveness of CNC Turning capability.

The skill of the craftsman is still required but has translated into being a craftsman skilled and knowledgeable with the software and all its capabilities. The technology has just about reached the stage of if you can imagine it, we can create it. Working closely with your CNC designer is the key. Just like the old craftsman your CNC designer will bring your ideas to life, turning imagination into reality.