History of CNC technology

The history of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) can be dated back to the 1940s when it first emerged. However, their history can be traced back even further to the 1700s with the invention of the metal lathe. It would take some time before the concept of precision would take form and result in the emergence of X-Carve and other useful machines.

What is CNC?

CNC comprises multiple tools like those used in drilling, milling, and lathes, which are built in the cells where machines can use them. A CNC machine can be designed to produce 3D parts. The most straightforward CNC machine can move in either two or three axes.

Most machines come with flipping parts and rotational motion to cut materials on all sides with no human intervention.

CNC In The Early Days

It was not until 1949 that the first CNC machine was produced. The machine would be used later in the production of helicopter blades and stiffer skins for aircraft. John Parsons developed the first CNC machine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Today, Parsons is considered by many the father of CNC machines.

His attempt to produce the best CNC machines followed after the Air Force needed a standardized and highly precise way of making intricate components like curved rotor blades for helicopters. Parsons worked tirelessly researching to come up with numerical coordinate for every point in a manufactured piece ensuring every component adhered to the actual design.

The concept of numerical control was born this way. The computer part of it would follow later, although automation was involved even at the early stage.

In an initial analog process, the numerical control coordinates for a geometrical piece were first fed into a machine using punch tape. Each of the punch patterns corresponding to a numerical coordinate instructing the servomotor where to cut or move.

This principle or ideology behind CNC remains constant until today. What has changed is the implementation and how the concept is being applied in the manufacturing industry.

The Future of CNC Machining 

CNC is almost similar functionally to other technologies introduced many years ago. However, that doesn’t mean there are no innovations that have occurred of late. The development of five-axis has enabled more complex parts with the same precision, quality, and efficiency.

Productivity in the manufacturing sector is now improving because of innovative ways of incorporating automation into the process. AI and increased connectivity is currently complementing CNC technology, making it even better than before.

In order to maximize production and efficiency, the machines and technology available at our disposal are now being operated by programming professionals. This way efficiency and quality is always on the rise.

The core of the CNC machining process remains versatile and more powerful. It forms the basis of manufacturing today and in the future. As technology advances, we can only expect new inventions and growth of CNC from mere technology to a global institution. There is still more for developing CNC machines and new technology in the field.