When you visit the GMI headquarters in Franklin, IN, you may be surprised at the level of technology that goes into creating precision parts for medical, aerospace, radio frequency, and other related industries. CNC, or Computer Numerical Control, uses computer-driven equipment to transform manufacturing. From the gadgets in your pocket to the planes soaring overhead, CNC machining plays a crucial role in shaping our world.

Let’s dive into 10 interesting facts about the CNC industry that will make you appreciate its incredible impact:

Fact 1: It started with watches

The CNC industry traces its roots to the 16th century Swiss watchmaking industry. These coveted watches relied on precision parts with little room for error. They also needed a way to specifically manufacture these precision parts with consistent measurements. Enter the automatic screw machine, designed to produce the long, slender parts needed for the watch industry.

Fact 2: The industry took off with airplanes

The need for modern CNC arose in the 1950s during the jet aircraft boom. Traditional machining methods struggled to produce the intricate parts needed for these high-performance machines. Instead, the industry needed machinery that could handle multiple operations, like cross-drilling, tapping, and milling, to handle the demand for aircraft parts. This need for precision and uniformity birthed the concept of CNC, where computers took control of the machining process.

Fact 3: CNC machines are programmed for excellence

 CNC machines are nothing without the magic of programming. Skilled professionals, often referred to as CNC programmers, translate designs into a digital language called G-code. This code instructs the machine on the precise movements of the cutting tool, ensuring the final product matches the designer’s vision perfectly.

Fact 4: CNC goes beyond milling and lathing

While milling and lathing are popular CNC processes, the industry encompasses a wider range of techniques. From waterjet cutting that utilizes a high-pressure stream to slice through materials to laser cutting offering unmatched precision, CNC has diversified to meet various manufacturing needs.

Fact 5: Tolerances matter

CNC machining boasts unmatched precision. Unlike human machinists who are limited by physical constraints, CNC machines can achieve tolerances measured in microns, or thousandths of a millimeter. This allows for the creation of incredibly intricate and complex parts.

Fact 6: It’s more than a computer

A computer is only as good as its programmer, and the CNC industry relies on trained CNC machinists. Our machinists receive extensive training and certification, ensuring that the final product meets the precision specifications required for medical devices, aerospace, and radio frequency components.

Fact 7: Materials continue to evolve

CNC machines can work with a wide range of materials, from soft plastics to ultra-hardened steel. This makes it applicable to a vast array of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical devices, consumer electronics, and even jewelry making. Lately we’ve been working with more titanium for medical devices as well as Inconel, a high-performance, nickel-based alloy.

Fact 8: We can be hands-off when it comes to measurements

Often GMI is asked to manufacture parts that are both tiny and delicate. A typical touch probe may not be practical for taking measurements during the manufacturing process. Instead, GMI can measure the parts with vision and a laser to achieve accurate results without touching the part.

Fact 9: CNC relies on quality control

We have a saying around the office: Good enough is not good enough. There is no such thing as wiggle room. Each piece is carefully inspected throughout the CNC manufacturing process. Each GMI employee is trained as a front-line inspector in each phase of the manufacturing process.

Fact 10: 3D printing is a type of CNC machining

Are you fascinated by the objects created by a 3D printer? You’re experiencing a form of CNC machining. The machine is able to craft an intricate design out of raw material, thinks to the computer brain behind the machine and the multiple axis that are used in the manufacturing process.

The world of CNC is far more than just machines churning out parts. It’s a testament to human ingenuity and the constant push for precision, efficiency, and innovation. As CNC technology continues to develop, its impact on manufacturing and our everyday lives is sure to become even more profound. How can GMI help you manufacture precision parts quickly and efficiently? Contact us online or call us at 317-736-5116.

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