Benefits of CNC Prototyping
CNC (computer numerical control) prototyping is a comparatively new process in the machining world that allows for greater efficiency through higher levels of automation, and by having the machine and its computer controls perform all the work. While CNC prototyping machines are complex and expensive, they almost immediately pay for themselves by lessening the workload and precluding 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 lets a company hire fewer operators, thus saving on overhead. 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 a lot faster than human machinists, as they are much stronger and have no need to take 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 advantage to CNC prototyping is that it produces exactly the same result every single 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 truly important in the modern era of uniform and transposable parts, where a single problematic cut can make the whole machine useless. All that is needed is a single program to be created and fed into the machine. Then the machine can toil away at however many work pieces are needed, producing an exact replica down to thousandths of an inch each and every time.
The third important advantage to CNC prototyping is the flexibility of the machine. 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. It is hence possible to go back to old programs or install new programs whenever a new work piece must be produced. This gives CNC prototyping machines a huge advantage over other machines, being easy to shift to a totally different product output without requiring new parts to be installed or a overhaul of core components. This also ensures that CNC prototyping machines will be able to keep up with customer demand, knowing how they can very quickly switch from producing a part in surplus to one that is lacking, if ever there is a need.