CNC (computer numerical control) prototyping is a reasonably new process in the area of machining allowing for improved efficiency through higher levels of automation, and by letting the machine and its computer controls handle all the work. While CNC prototyping machines are complicated and pricey, they almost instantly pay for themselves by decreasing the workload and controlling errors.
The first main advantage of CNC prototyping is that it improves automation, removing the need of an operator for all but a few parts of the work. CNC prototyping machines could be left unwatched for hours or, if necessary, even days, allowing operators to spend time on other tasks. This also allows a company to employ fewer operators, therefore saving on overhead expenses. Safety is increased when there is no operator, because then any damage occurring after a potentially hazardous machining error will be confined to the machine itself. CNC prototyping machines can also work considerably faster than human machinists, being stronger and able to continue without breaks. They can also be operated late at night, when most of the workers would have gone home, since machines do not need to be bothered about being sleepy or getting paid for overtime.
The second biggest benefit to CNC prototyping is that it produces the exact same outcome each and every time. Even the best human operator will have slight variations among finished results, while a CNC machine will come up with exactly the same result each time. This is extremely important in the modern generation of homogeneous and compatible parts, where one defective cut can make an entire machine totally unusable. All that is needed is for one program to be developed as well as installed into the machine. Then the machine can work away at however many work pieces are needed, producing an exact replica down to thousandths of an inch each and every time.
The third considerable advantage to CNC prototyping is the machine’s flexibility. Although humans are obviously more trainable and flexible than machines, a CNC machine can be fully reprogrammed in a matter of hours to generate a totally different product. Therefore, it is possible to revert back to old programs or install new programs if a new work piece is needed. This gives CNC prototyping machines a large advantage over other machines, as they are quick to shift to producing an entirely different output without needing new part installations or an overhaul of key components. This also guarantees that CNC prototyping machines can meet growing customer demands, considering they can easily shift from producing parts in surplus to parts that are lacking if necessary.