The CNC machine shop is the oft-forgotten shaper of the many metal parts, components, products, and things that have come to make a difference in our lives.
By exact definition, a machine shop is nothing more than a place where metal is cut, formed, and shaped by – you guessed it – machine tools. However, the concept of the machine shop has evolved from something akin to the fabled medieval “smithy” to modern high-tech multi-million dollar businesses without a hammer or anvil to be found.
Somewhere during the evolution of the modern machine shop the level of technology and innovation increased. With the impact of the industrial revolution, the rapid production of tools precipitated the birth of tools that could mass-produce more tools.
It might sound redundant, but it’s true. Imagine the first batch of machines capable of manufacturing more reliable CNC machining in Sydney that would then manufacture even more machines.
With the ability to quickly fabricate and mass-produce machines with standard interchangeable parts, more businesses had the opportunity to produce more products. You can read more here about it.
So now, when you think about the metal components in your home, your car, or the machines that were critical when it came to making the parts that go into them, you take advantage of years of history and innovation dating all the way back to the industrial revolution and beyond.
Today however, the main technology responsible for most of the metal products we benefit from is CNC, short for computer numerical control.
When you drive your car or use your computer, you directly benefit from CNC machinery, a technology that the business barons of the industrial revolution could only dream of. So what is it?
Numerical control, in the simplest sense, refers to the automation of machine tools, like industrial milling and boring machines.
This way, instead of machining tools being controlled by the hand-cranks and levers of the 18th century, they are fully automated by programmed commands, stored on the computer, and easily repeated whenever the machine shop needs to run a second part. This makes producing the same part, over and over again extremely simple and cost-effective.
Before CNC there was just numerical control, which required a programmer to produce tapes that were used to input the proper commands. However, once more modern computers came into prominence, number subroutines could be used to more quickly and effectively enter a list of points and speeds to produce the list of “instructions” a machine needed to produce a given part.