Many stone fabrication newbies will be walking through a trade show or attending a seminar and will hear the term CNC. This term is used frequently in our industry. It may not be new to the seasoned fabricators, but the beginner may be a little confused as to what a CNC machine is. In the following article I will present some basic information on CNC technology, including what a CNC machine is, some history of the technology and also some terminology you should know. Even the veteran CNC machine operator may find the following informative.
WHAT DOES CNC MEAN?
CNC stands for computer numeric control. CNC machinery was introduced in the United States in the 1970s and made its way over to the stone industry a few years later. So, what does computer numeric control mean? Quite simply, a CNC mimics and replaces a certain task in the fabrication process. For example, let's look at edge profiling.
If you're using one of the many routers available, you have to manually attach the bit, adjust the height of the router bit, lock the spindle, adjust the speed, add the proper amount of water and then push and pull the machine along the edge. As you can see, there is a lot of human intervention and that can leave a lot of room for error. This is especially true if the operator is not experienced. The operator will have to perform this task over and over again which can lead to fatigue.
The CNC machine can do those same movements by programming the movements and operations into the machine. In other words, it will do everything automatically. Think of CNC technology as nothing more than a robot that repeats the same tasks over and over again.