The art of CNC precision machining When an artist produces a piece of artwork, like a painting, it is a unique product which

is part of is appeal and adds to its value. The artist may duplicate the painting but when it is done manually there are distinct variations in the final product that once again mean that even the duplicate is unique. The process of duplicating paintings through art prints made the copy a much closer representation of the original. The artist may have duplicated the first painting but the brush strokes used were not identical and the variation in motion control lead to a variation in the final product. Variations in artwork can be beautiful and necessary but in the world of machining beauty comes from the ability to exactly and precisely reproduce the final product and this can be accomplished through Computer Numerical Control for machining also known as CNC. The role of machinist has changed radically with the introduction of CNC precision machining. Early machinists would make use of manual cranks, handwheels, lead screws and a series of slides to perform the required cutting tasks just as an artist would use visual and physical control mechanisms to produce an artwork. In machining the key desirable outcome was and remains accuracy and reproducibility. CNC allows motion control for machining that is precise and able to be repeated over and over again without manual intervention while also increasing the safety of the operator. Although there is currently no known mechanical system that can reproduce the sophistication of the artist’s body at work, CNC has allowed significant advances in the machining industry. Different machine types have different series of motions depending on the cutting tasks required but the method of motion control is fairly consistent in CNC. Each direction of motion is referred to as an axis and CNC machines can have two, five and even twelve axes and can either be linear or spherical depending on their application. The machines can manufacture high-tech components for use in the medical, aerospace and automotive industries from a range of materials including titanium, aluminium, copper, brass, alloys and high temperature plastics. CNC machines are involved in producing items such as nuts, inserts, threaded parts, pins, shafts, gears and fittings and can be produced in high volume in addition to high precision. The art of these processes lies not only in the final products but on the skill of the operator who programmes the CNC machines.