Types of CNC Machines and Machine ToolsTina
What is a Desktop CNC Machine?
Companies that specialize in manufacturing CNC machines often offer a desktop series of smaller, lightweight machines. Desktop CNC machines, although slower and less precise, handle soft materials well, such as plastic and foam. They’re also better for smaller parts and light to moderate production. Machines featured in a tabletop series resemble the larger industry standard, but their size and weight make them better suited to small applications. A desktop CNC lathe, for example, that features two axes and can handle parts up to six inches in diameter, would be useful for jewelry and mold-making. Other common desk CNC machines include plotter-sized laser cutters and milling machines. With smaller lathes, it’s important to differentiate between a benchtop CNC lathe machine and a desktop lathe.
Benchtop CNC lathes are generally more affordable, but also smaller and somewhat limited in the applications they can handle. A standard CNC benchtop lathe generally includes the motion controller, cables, and basic software. A standard CNC desktop lathe, with a similar basic package, costs slightly more.
What is a CNC Machine
Depending on the machining operation being performed, the CNC machining process employs a variety of CNC machines and machine tools to produce the custom-designed part or product. While the equipment may vary in other ways from operation to operation and application to application, the integration of computer numerical control components and software (as outlined above) remains consistent across all CNC machining equipment and processes.
CNC Drilling Equipment
Drilling employs rotating drill bits to produce the cylindrical holes in the workpiece. The design of the drill bit allows for the waste metal—i.e., chips—to fall away from the workpiece. There are several types of drill bits, each of which is used for a specific application. Types of drill bits available include spotting drills (for producing shallow or pilot holes), peck drills (for reducing the amount of chips on the workpiece), screw machine drills (for producing holes without a pilot hole), and chucking reamers (for enlarging previously produced holes). Typically the CNC drilling process also utilizes CNC-enabled drill presses, which are specifically designed to perform the drilling operation. However, the operation can also be performed by turning, tapping, or milling machines.
CNC Turning Equipment
Turning employs single-point cutting tools to remove material from the rotating workpiece. The design of the turning tool varies based on the particular application, with tools available for roughing, finishing, facing, threading, forming, undercutting, parting, and grooving applications. The CNC turning process also utilizes CNC-enabled lathes or turning machines. The types of lathes available include turret lathes, engine lathes, and special-purpose lathes.
CNC Milling Equipment
Milling employs rotating multi-point cutting tools to shape the workpiece. Milling tools are either horizontally or vertically oriented and include end mills, helical mills, and chamfer mills. The CNC milling process also utilizes CNC-enabled milling machinery, referred to as mill machines or mills, which can be horizontally or vertically oriented. Basic mills are capable of three-axis movements, with more advanced models accommodating additional axes. The types of mills available include hand milling, plain milling, universal milling, and omniversal milling machines.