Perth’s manufacturing and tooling industries depend on the flexibility and efficiency of CNC machining for their ability to compete.
The ability to use computers to automate the control industrial tools such as grinders, routers, mills and lathes is vital, in a world where many of their rivals enjoy significantly lower labour costs.
CNC machining uses a computer language commonly referred to as G-code. G-code contains commands which control features such as speeds, location, co-ordination, feed-rate and so forth. Here are some key features offered by CNC machines which distinguish them from their predecessors:
Flexibility, smaller runs and faster turn-around
CNC machines are part of a precision engineering revolution that integrates Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing. Because machine runs are planned within the design software, designers and engineers can save, share and adapt designs quickly and easily. Reduced setup times mean that short runs can be performed at modest unit prices – fitting perfectly into the business model for much of Perth’s manufacturing.
Complexity of work pieces
CNC machines can perform very complex motions, enabling the machining of shapes that traditional methods could not produce. Particularly in the making of plastics tooling, this advantage is a key factor in enabling small to medium machine shops to compete successfully.
Lower Training Costs
Traditional machine tools require highly trained fitters to operate them. By contrast, a CNC operator requires few skills.
Simply put, the level of skill needed to run these machines, but not to program them, is much lower than for a traditional machine tool, particularly in a manufacturing setting where lengthy runs of identical pieces are the order of the day.
Faster and safer work piece machining
Because they are designed to perform runs with little or no human intervention, CNC machines are largely enclosed, leading to greatly reduced risks to the operator. Modern CNC machines, like-for-like, operate far faster than their traditional predecessors.
Because CNC machines are controlled digitally, their repeatability is only limited by their machine tolerances.
What skills does a manual machinist need to become a CNC machinist?
While, strictly speaking, running a CNC machine requires, few skills, most shops train their operators in part or all of the skills needed to set up a run in the machine’s workstation. Depending on the nature of the business and the aptitude of the machinist, they may also be trained in aspects of CAD. Using CNC machining profitably requires mastery of the associated software. Wise managers maintain flexible up-skilling paths, allowing employees to exploit their aptitude.