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ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

OF CNC MACHINES

V. Ryan © 2004 - 2009

 

 

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CNC Computer Numerical Control machines are widely used in manufacturing industry. Traditional machines such as vertical millers, centre lathes, shaping machines, routers etc.... operated by a trained engineer have, in many cases, been replaced by computer control machines.

 
 

 

 

COMPUTER NUMERICAL CONTROL - MACHINE 

 

MANUALLY OPERATED CENTRE LATHE

     
 

ADVANTAGES

 

DISADVANTAGES


1. CNC machines can be used continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and only need to be switched off for occasional maintenance.
2. CNC machines are programmed with a design which can then be manufactured hundreds or even thousands of times. Each manufactured product will be exactly the same.
3. Less skilled/trained people can operate CNCs unlike manual lathes / milling machines etc.. which need skilled engineers.
4. CNC machines can be updated by improving the software used to drive the machines
5. Training in the use of CNCs is available through the use of ‘virtual software’. This is software that allows the operator to practice using the CNC machine on the screen of a computer. The software is similar to a computer game.
6. CNC machines can be programmed by advanced design software such as Pro/DESKTOP®, enabling the manufacture of products that cannot be made by manual machines, even those used by skilled designers / engineers.
7. Modern design software allows the designer to simulate the manufacture of his/her idea. There is no need to make a prototype or a model. This saves time and money.
8. One person can supervise many CNC machines as once they are programmed they can usually be left to work by themselves. Sometimes only the cutting tools need replacing occasionally.

9. A skilled engineer can make the same component many times. However, if each component is carefully studied, each one will vary slightly. A CNC machine will manufacture each component as an exact match.


1. CNC machines are more expensive than manually operated machines, although costs are slowly coming down.
2. The CNC machine operator only needs basic training and skills, enough to supervise several machines. In years gone by, engineers needed years of training to operate centre lathes, milling machines and other manually operated machines. This means many of the old skills are been lost.
3. Less workers are required to operate CNC machines compared to manually operated machines. Investment in CNC machines can lead to unemployment.
4. Many countries no longer teach pupils / students how to use manually operated lathes / milling machines etc... Pupils / students no longer develop the detailed skills required by engineers of the past. These include mathematical and engineering skills.

QUESTIONS:
1. List more advantages and disadvantages of CNC machines.

     
     

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