Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process that uses computer instructions to control machine tools and create features on a workpiece.
CNC machines’ incredibly high accuracy, precision, and speed make them one of today’s most in-demand manufacturing methods. In fact, CNC machines’ global market size was valued at USD 81.95 billion in 2020 alone and projected to reach USD 128.41 billion by 2028.
In this article, we’ll discuss the exciting applications of CNC machining in manufacturing. We’ll focus on eight industries where CNC machines are helping machine operators to create intricate customized designs that other manufacturing processes struggle to achieve.
#1 Aerospace & Defense
The aerospace and defense industry is known for its stringent requirements for high accuracy, precision, and tight tolerances. For example, a typical modern-day military aircraft features hundreds of thousands of components requiring tolerances as small as 4μm.
The defense industry relies heavily on 5-axis CNC milling machines to create these parts and achieve this tight tolerance requirement. What’s more, multi-axis CNC machines are also helping the aerospace industry handle difficult-to-machine metals, such as titanium.
Learn More: CNC Machining for the Aerospace Industry
Like the aerospace and defense industry, the automotive industry also relies on CNC machines to create intricate engine components like the engine block, cylinder, and gearboxes from a broad range of engineering materials.
But what really makes CNC machines vital in the automotive industry is their high repeatability. Automotive companies manufacture components on the scale of hundreds of millions and demand that they are interchangeable. Only a few manufacturing technologies can meet these high repeatability requirements, and CNC machining is among them.
AI-assisted CNC machining is also taking automotive parts production into the future as it plays a significant role in the manufacture of self-driving cars.
Learn More: CNC Machining for the Automotive Industry
#3 Optical Communication
The optical communication industry has experienced a massive improvement in the last two decades. And as one would imagine, this has made machining requirements more complex.
To give you an idea of how stringent the quality control requirements are in this industry, optical communication parts manufacturers typically use a tool microscope to inspect machined parts.
Thanks to CNC machining, optical communication companies can now manufacture telescopes, camera lenses, and optical transmitter parts with high accuracy to the smallest detail.
#4 Robotics and Automation
Product designers are often at a crossroads when choosing a manufacturing technology for their robotics and automation parts. Without a doubt, 3D printers offer high accuracy and precision, just like CNC machines. But 3D printed parts are usually fragile and nowhere close to being as strong as CNC machined parts, making them ideal for creating small DIY hobby robots.
Top-tier robotics companies use CNC machines to manufacture larger and more durable robots (like those found in warehouses and automotive manufacturing facilities). Large robotics end effectors, custom jigs, and storage units are a few of the many robotics parts created using CNC machines.
CNC machining has been at the forefront of manufacturing technologies used in the electronics industry in the last two decades. For example, Tech Giant Apple relies on CNC machines to create the unibody enclosure of the MacBook Pro.
Essential electronics components, including printed circuit boards, heat sinks, sockets, and connectors, are usually manufactured using CNC machines.
Learn More: CNC Machining for the Electronics Industry
#6 Medical Equipment
The medical industry relies on many custom bodily implants (for example, knee and hip replacement implants) to fit the needs of its patients. These implants need to be extremely accurate and precise since slight mistakes may significantly affect the life and wellbeing of the patients.
Through reverse engineering and CNC technology, medical professionals create patient-specific implants, usually from titanium and PEEK-two biocompatible materials that are challenging to manufacture using other manufacturing processes.
What’s more, CNC machining helps the medical industry to meet understandably strict requirements of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the manufacture of surgical instruments and medical devices
Learn More: CNC Machining for the Medical Industry
In addition to the high accuracy and precision that CNC machining offers, the compatibility of CNC machines with a broad range of materials makes them sought after in the semiconductor industry. Several electronic and integrated circuit components made of alumina, silicon nitride, sapphire, and aluminum nitride are easily fabricated using CNC machines.
CNC machining has also made it much easier for semiconductor manufacturers to achieve different surface finishes, including masked finishes, anodizing and nickel-plated finishes.
Learn More: CNC Machining for the Semiconductor Industry
We can’t talk about the growth and success of aerospace, defense, medical equipment, and other industries without mentioning the applications of CNC machining in the energy industry. A large part of every industry’s success can be attributed to the development of more efficient power generation systems.
The components of modern-day solar, wind, and hydropower turbines and generators are becoming more and more complex, and multi-axis CNC milling machines are among the few manufacturing technologies capable of creating these complex parts.
CNC electrical discharge machining (EDM) is also helping the energy industry to create small and complex parts, especially when conventional CNC cutting tools may damage the part from excess cutting tool pressure. This is because CNC EDM does not make direct contact with the workpiece during machining operations.
CNC Machining with Gensun Precision Machining
Now that we’ve discussed some of the top applications of CNC machining, you would agree that CNC machining is versatile and offers several advantages when creating custom parts. But bear in mind that these advantages will only be felt if you work with top-tier machining centers or manufacturing partners.
Gensun Precision Machining is a popular name in the fabrications industry and a leading provider of CNC machining services across the globe. Backed by fifteen years worth of experience, we’ve helped many innovative companies to create high-quality parts for prototyping and production.
We’ve completed over 100,000 projects for customers across many industries, including aerospace and defense, electronics, medical equipment, and automotive industries, among others.
Learn more about our CNC machining services.