Machines that use computer numerical control are not new but their use is increasing. CNC machines is the common term used when referring to this type of equipment. However it basically means almost any machine controlled by a computer and a program. These machines are commonly used in industrial settings. They tend to be very expensive and can be large, complex, and difficult for the inexperienced to use.
The upside is that users can craft very precise machined finishes, in contrast to hand-made items, which will tend to have small impurities and are likely to be consistent due to the differences in skill levels of the producers. Mills, 3D printers, Lathes, and much more can be classed as a CNC machine. The following video is an excellent example of one of these machines at work. The machine in operation is a ballet of motion and can be truly hypnotic.
3D printing is another type of CNC machine. Although this is not a new thing… technology is rapidly becoming better. Equipment is becoming more affordable, better, easier to use and maintain, and it produces high-quality finishes. Once reserved for professionals, 3D printers are common place among a flourishing hobbies community.
3D printing was once reserved for plastics. Now, it is possible to print metals like Titanium, bio latices for organ replacements, simple organics and much more. On the flip side, prints of guns, plastic knives and other dangerous items are causing much controversy among the 3d printing community. Regulation on these matters is sure to follow in the coming years.
CNC machinery has also brought about a quantum leap in mass production. Since the mastery of the production method cars, planes, boats… in fact almost everything has benefited from high-quality components. This has served to reduce the cost of production, which has reduced the end-user’s cost. This has been achieved while delivering increased quality in the form of improved aesthetics, efficiency, longevity, customisability, and much more. There are arguably very few down sides, especially with technology set to continue to improve.
Economically, CNC machinery has been attributed to job losses as manufacturers are able to deliver a comparable output with less staff as a result of implementing CNC technologies. Is this trend set to continue? Yes. For manufacturers to continue to be competitive in the future, it looks like industries must embrace CNC machinery or face becoming irrelevant… this is the price of progress.
The resultant job losses will be the simple result of the transition from one era of production to the next, with future workers being educated on how to design, create, work with and maintain CNC technologies.