Modern businesses rely on rapid prototyping to capture the consumer market faster than their competition. CNC rapid prototyping is popular with companies because of its low cost and quick results.
CNC machining allows you to churn out prototypes at an accelerated pace using computerized equipment with specialized software. The process enables you to create high-quality components for finished products and functional models.
According to our CNC rapid prototyping experts at X Rapid Technologies, the technology can be incorporated into various stages of product design and development for an improved end-user product.
Is CNC machining accurate?
Using cutting tools controlled by computer systems is the best way to achieve high precision levels that no conventional system can match. CNC-machined rapid prototypes are very accurate, with a tolerance of up to 50 microns or +/- 0.01 mm, which is more than enough for most applications.
The accuracy and tolerance are repeatable and consistent over practically unlimited production runs due to the computerized system. Some CNC machining centers can also provide tighter tolerance with special tools for demanding applications in various domains like automotive or aerospace.
Is CNC machining fast enough?
Industrial usage of CNC machining began in the 1970s, thanks to improved machinery and software suitable for mass production. Technological advancements over the past few decades have made CNC rapid prototyping one of the most reliable and fastest ways to produce complex metal and plastic prototypes.
CNC machines that create rapid prototypes require less time to set up and process design and raw materials. Modern CAM and CAD design software help translate a virtual three-dimensional drawing into a physical one via a multi-axis mill. This programming only takes a few hours, after which the mill can turn raw materials into rapid prototypes at astonishing speeds in a few minutes.
Which materials can be used for CNC machines?
It does not matter what material you use with a CNC machine as long as it does not melt or deform due to pressure during the cutting process. CNC machines can process any material as long as it's rigid enough. In this way, CNC rapid prototyping allows you to make several iterations of the same part but with slightly varying visual or mechanical properties. You can create the same design with steel, aluminum, or plastic while only adjusting the speed and other parameters of the machine.
Is it easy to make modifications to a CNC prototype?
By modifying the G-code program, you can make changes to CNC prototypes easily and quickly. It is one of the main advantages of CNC rapid prototyping as it allows you to test various iterations of the same design and pick the one that suits your end goals the most. You can keep revising the code on the go to refine the design, thus reducing development time and cost.
What tools are required for CNC machining?
Traditional prototype manufacturing methods involved pressure die casting and plastic injection molding using steel alloy molds. These molds used to take weeks to make and were quite complex. Even the silicone molds used in vacuum casting take a few days to produce.
CNC rapid prototyping does not limit you in any such manner. With CNC machines, as long as you require flatter and smoother surface components, no fixed or special tooling is required to create CNC rapid prototypes. All you need are CNC milling cutters. You can use various types and shapes of them to perform different functions. It only takes a few moments to swap and exchange the inserts on an automatic turntable.
CNC machining can seem a bit complex for businesses venturing into rapid prototyping or 3D printing for the first time. Our CNC prototyping experts at X Rapid Technologies can help you understand the right CNC machining choices for your applications.