in hierdie CNC machine buyers’ guide, you’ll learn about the different CNC machines, some basic info about them, and their expected prices. This piece also doubles as a wood CNC machine buyers’ guide. Lees verder!
What Is a CNC Machine?
CNC stands for computer numerical control. It’s a manufacturing process that combines machining and computer-aided designs (CAD) or programs to make products faster and more efficiently.
Machining, on the other hand, is a process we usually use to convert raw materials into finished products of any shape or size. By combining computer programs stored in digital G-code formats, factory workers can automate and control any tool or machine parts in and from any angle to create finished products as simulated in the digital files.
Alternatively, we call the CAD/G-code manufacturing system of CNC machining computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). This is because of the automation made possible by the computer system.
What Does a CNC Machine Do?
Oor die algemeen gebruik ons CNC masjiene to automate and perform various simple or complex production activities, including cutting, facing, milling, drilling or boring, shearing, shaping, packaging, labeling, prototyping, and sealing of materials.
What Is an Example of a CNC Tool?
CNC machine tools include lathe or turning machines, wire EDMs, grinding machines, waterjets, milling machines, cutters, and routers, among others. A typical CNC machining hardware architecture comprises
- a controller for executing and controlling various machine components,
- a feedback system that oversees the machining process and ensures that the graphical simulation follows the CAD design,
- and a regulator system that ensures all parameters, including speed, rate, position, heat, etc., are consistent and accurate.
- A turret for holding the cutting tools,
- And usually a spindle for rotating the materials.
On the other hand, we have the software component that comprises computer-generated graphics that simulate real-world production processes. This graphic is converted or stored as G-code files—the language or format most modern-day CNC machines understand.
With that said, let’s dive deeper into some CNC machining types and their expected prices.
1. CNC Lathe Machines
Lathe CNC machines apply the CNC machining principles and can be used to face, shape, and drill products (usually cylindrical) with high-precision inner and outer diameters. Lather machines’ turning mechanism is why we often call them “CNC-draaimasjiene. "
How a CNC Lathe Machine Works
A simple CNC lathe machine architecture comprises a stationary rotating spindle and a movable cutting tool positioned at two or more angles with a turret, depending on the industry and need.
The spindle spins the material at a certain speed, usually at a steady position but in vertical or horizontal axes. Then, the cutting tool shapes or shears the materials from their placed angles. The linear movement of the cutting tool is regulated to ensure the finished product meets the CAD simulation.
CNC lathe machines operate in different axes, giving them their characteristic classification. For instance, you can use a 6-axis CNC lathe machine to produce something with complex angles, such as a vehicle rim.
Uses of a CNC Lathe Machine
You can virtually machine any material with a CNC lathe machine tool. Their uses include shaping, drilling, sanding, knurling, turning, cutting, facing, turning, and deformation.
These functions prove just how versatile CNC lathe machines are in the metal and woodworking industries. This versatility is what gave them the nickname “mother of machining tools.”
Factors to Consider When Buying a Lathe Machine
Usually, we classify CNC lathe machines according to their simplicity or complexity and based on their operating angles. These angles or axes would help you determine the lathe machine’s potential size, installation, cost, and maintenance potential.
So when making a purchasing decision for a lathe machine or parts, you should check these boxes carefully:
- The products you specialize in: What can you use this part to achieve?
- The size of your factory and team: Who will operate these parts, and which lathe type would fit your factory best?
- The compatibility of your existing CAM software with the lathe machine part you intend to purchase
- The number of axes you need at the time
- Consider the cost of the machine part and the working tool or resource (made of steel, brass, bronze, copper, etc.).
Prices of a CNC Lathe Machine
The price of a CNC lathe machine varies according to the axis and size. For instance, a small CNC lathe would cost between $4,000 to $5,000. Alternatively, a two-axis (almost sizeable) lathe would exceed $15,000, although the cutting tool material could affect its general cost. Finally, we have industrial-scale or complex CNC lathes that could cost up to $250,000 to $300,000.
2. CNC Wire Electric Discharge Machine (EDM)
Sometimes, it’s hard to cut, drill, or fabricate materials like titanium alloys and some types of steel. In that case, electrical discharge machines (EDM) are the best options to use.
How a CNC Wire Electric Discharge Machine Works
EDMs fabricate, cut, or erode materials using electrical discharge or sparks. The setup comprises two electrodes representing the cathode and anode. One electrode is the metallic tool, usually made of copper, graphite, or thin brass; the other is the workpiece, which could be metallic or non-metallic.
Furthermore, we have other EDM components like continuously flowing deionized water or dielectric fluid, the wire that passes the current, and the stand that holds the entire operation. We merge the two electrodes during fabrication or production with a gap width range of 0.01 and 0.1 mm.
This gap width is completed by the deionized water continuously flowing through a spool. Finally, we pass current through the setup to shape or form materials how we want. EDM processes are similar to electrolysis.
Uses of a Wire Electric Discharge Machine
We often use wire EDMs to fabricate materials that would have been hard to shape or cut under normal machining processes. EDMs can make punches in hard materials that are about 300mm thick. Their applications extend to sterf beslissende and mold industries that fabricate or punch materials such as screws or materials used in the automotive, aerospace, and electronics industries.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Wire Electric Discharge Machine
CNC wire EDMs are not very common, so you must bear the following in mind when buying them:
- The cost of consumables or tool pieces. Recall that these materials are made of valuable metals like copper, graphite, and brass. So, their price will determine other factors like total production cost, budgeting, material type, etc.
- You may want to consider the best practices that would help you to economize materials and maximize productivity. You could consult an expert or colleagues with experience in this regard.
- The next thing to keep in mind is the maintenance of the setup. During production, there could be cases of melting wires, decoloration of tools, etc.
Prices of a Wire Electric Discharge Machine
The prices of wire-cutting electric discharge machines vary according to the simplicity or complexity of the setup. The prices of new modern wire-cut discharge machines begin at $5,000 for simple machines and go up to $50,000 to $70,000 for complex ones.
3. CNC Laser Cutter
One of the top needs for CNC laser cutters is their precision. The fact that they are computerized makes them even more exceptional for engraving, cutting, and carving.
How a CNC Laser Cutter Machine Works
A CNC laser cutter machine uses computers to cut or carve materials such as conductive metal or wood. The system is pre-programmed with CAM to dictate the direction of the beam and nozzle used in precision cutting.
Unlike conventional machining techniques, there is usually no contact between two solid materials (tool and workpiece). We only have laser beams shot from a nozzle with compressed gas at a super high temperature capable of vaporizing a metallic material.
Uses of a Laser Cutter Machine
We use laser cutter machines to cut, decorate, engrave texts or shapes, and carve metallic and non-metallic materials. For the records, laser cutters can cut through materials up to 35mm thick at high precision, accuracy, and repetition.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Laser Cutter
One of the important things to note in this CNC machine buyer’s guide is to keep in mind the material you’re cutting with it (or the type of products you fabricate or produce) before you buy. This would give you insight into the kind of laser beam to employ for the cutting.
Apparently, laser beams for fabricating metals would differ from those used for plastics or wood. For instance, we have CO2 laser cutters commonly used to cut or fabricate glass, plastics, and wooden materials. They are not as expensive as the crystal and fiber laser cutters.
We also have crystal laser cutters for metals, ceramics, and thick plastics. The crystal laser types have higher intensities than the CO2 types. Finally, we have the fiber laser cutters best for thick glasses and metals. They are more intense than the crystal and CO2 types combined.
After considering the material to laser-cut, you should also consider maintenance possibilities and support from the manufacturer or dealer. This will help you calculate potential maintenance costs and prepare ahead.
Prices of a Laser Cutter Machine
One of the determinants of a laser cutter machine’s price is the energy it uses and the type of laser cutter. CO2 cutters are the cheapest and start at $2,000 to $5,000. The higher you go in the hierarchy (crystal and fiber lasers), the price could go up between $30,000 and $200,000, depending on the specs.
4. CNC Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutters can cut through any material, provided you apply the right gas to the correct material. For instance, a hydrogen-argon gas mix will probably not cut through a ferrous material—it’s best suited for aluminum and vlekvrye staal materiale.
How a CNC Plasma Cutter Machine Works
Plasma cutters are similar to laser cutters, except that a forced or pressured gas passes through a conductive material this time. The process is streamlined and automated with a computer program. During cutting, the forced gas ionizes or electrolyzes the materials as it cuts through.
This explains why some plasma cutters cannot cut through some materials, just like the earlier example. Furthermore, getting a cleaner cut usually depends on the workpiece and the amount of pressure (in PSI) applied.
Uses of a Plasma Cutter
Plasma cutting is less precise than laser cutting, so we often use them in areas where we may not normally prioritize precision cutting. We commonly use plasma cutting to cut or fabricate conductive materials like stainless steel, aluminum, copper alloys, etc. Industries such as fabrication companies, automotive shops, construction factories, scrap and restoration factories, etc., use plasma cutting.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Plasma Cutter
For plasma cutting, you should consider the workpiece material and the gas for cutting it. Usually, for a conductive material, you need a corresponding ionizable gas. These consumables and raw materials are pricey. So, you need to research economical practices that help you avoid wasting resources.
Prices of a CNC Plasma Cutter Machine
The prices of CNC plasma cutter machines vary and depend on factors like cutting range and pressure. You could buy a new simple plasma cutter machine from $3,000 to $5,000. Fully equipped and multi-functional types could cost $50,000 to $100,000 per setup.
5. CNC Waterjets
Waterjet machines are becoming a better environmentally friendly alternative to cut metals excellently. The combination of water pressure and computerization makes it super exciting and fun to fabricate materials easily.
How CNC Water Jet Machine Works
A CNC water jet machine cuts metals or non-metallic materials like wood or plastic with high-pressure water. The water used under pressure is often mixed with abrasives to aid in the cutting.
We often use CNC water jet machines that do not use water to cut less hard materials like wood or plastics at high precision. Usually, the higher the pressure (in PSI), the cleaner or more precise the cut. The entire process is automated and simulated in a CAD or CAM program file.
Uses of a CNC Water Jets Machine
We may prefer a CNC water jet when the workpiece is sensitive to high or unusual temperatures. With CNC machining, you could design or decorate materials like ceramics or tiles, plastics, glass, wood, or metals.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Water Jets Machine
A water jet machine is so sophisticated that it could cost a range of $10 and $45 to operate per hour. The more sophisticated it is, the more operators would charge. But why buy a high-end water jet machine if all you need is a simple one that runs basic cutting needs? That way, you would also save on utility costs due to the reduced power of the machine; and when managed properly, you could cut down on maintenance too. Also, try to confirm the material types it uses for its operation.
Prices of a Water Jets Machine
The price of a water jet machine varies according to its size, capacity, and purpose. Some could be as high as $60,000 and some even higher. Generally, the technology behind this machine is advanced, leading to its high cost.
6. CNC Routers Machine
As it’s with other CNC machines we’ve discussed here, the CNC router machine is a formidable tool for cutting through various materials. One thing that makes it stand out from others is the fact that it’s computer-operated and can be programmed with pre-defined cutting patterns. However, it got its name from the mountable hand-held router which does the actual cutting.
How a CNC Routers Machine Works
The CAM program file with a simulated graphical representation of the cutting, engraving, or decoration process is added to the CNC router machine. The machine uses its spindle, which contains a rotary cutting tool, to form patterns or cut through the workpiece. The material to be cut or worked on is placed on a stand or placeholder with a turret.
During production or fabrication, the spindle moves in horizontal, vertical, or diagonal directions based on the instructions in the CAM program. The rotary cutting tool then cuts or engraves design patterns on the workpiece.
Uses of a Router Machine
Router machines are more popular in the woodmaking and plastic industries than in the metal industry. It cuts or creates patterns with high precision and ease. We commonly use routers to cut through, decorate, or engrave designs on workpieces. A common case study is the decorations on house doors or furniture.
Factors to Consider When Buying Router Machine
As a machine commonly used for decoration, one of the most important components in a router machine would be the end-point or cutting tool. You’d have to consider the type of design and the width and depth of the cutting or carving you intend to do. This will give an insight into the kind of end-point/cutting tool to add to the spindle.
After that, you can take note of the CAM software machine. Because you’ll often need to change it to fit client or fabrication requirements. This is usually where you do some of the major work. If done badly, it could affect the entire fabrication process, including the axis cutting tool must follow.
Prices of a CNC Routers Machine
CNC router machines are quite cheaper compared to other CNC machining alternatives in this list. You can get a simple three-axis router machine for about $5,000 to $12,000. You can pay as much as $50,000 and above for custom or multi-purpose types.
7. CNC Milling Machine
A CNC milling machine is similar to the router and lathe machines but more versatile than routers. Although lathe machines come close in terms of versatility.
How a CNC Milling Machine Works
A CNC milling machine comprises a rotary cutting tool held by a spindle. The sheared, cut, shaped, or fabricated material is placed on holders held by a turret, which could move in the X, Y, or Z axis during fabrication.
During fabrication, the controller installs the CAM software saved as G-code into the machine and applies the standard parameters to get the desired result. The machine follows the simulated program to fabricate the materials using the abovementioned components.
Uses of a CNC Milling Machine
CNC milling machine has a broad range of applications. For this reason, we widely use it to fabricate machine parts or products used in the automotive, Ruimte, toys, and electronics industries.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Milling Machine
A CNC milling machine use cases grow from simple to multi-purpose large machines. So, it’s important to consider the purchasing, installation, shipping, and maintenance costs. But before considering the above factors, you must first consider why you need a CNC milling machine.
You should take note of your product line, the size of the CNC machine that would satisfy your factory milling needs, etc. Finally, when maintaining your milling machine, you must ensure the part you want to replace matches the original machine’s part. You must also examine the software to be replaced during dynamic product, ensuring its compatibility with the machine or workpiece.
Prices of a CNC Milling Machine
A simple desktop CNC machine could cost up to $4,000 or more. However, as you go higher for multi-axes CNC milling machines, the price could go up from $14,000 to as much as $500,000 for larger and more sophisticated machines.
8. CNC Grinders
Finally, on our list is the CNC grinding machine or grinders. As their name suggests, we usually employ grinders for finishing or removing unwanted parts from a workpiece.
How a CNC Grinder Machine Works
CNC grinders apply computerized finishes to the inner and outer diameters of cylindrical workpieces. For some grinder machines, a rotary spindle holds the material to be sheared or finished. For others, the spindle or holder is stationary. The workpiece held on to the stand could be magnetically attached or firmly fixed.
Then, there is the rotary grinding wheel that moves in horizontal or vertical directions to ensure fine finishes. The grinding wheels have abrasive grains and layers of fiberglass used to shape or finish a workpiece.
Uses of a CNC Grinder
We commonly use a CNC grinder for hard-fine finishes and smoothening materials like metals, plastic, wood, or glass. With this machine, you’d be sure to get a product that is neat and spells quality. You can find some common examples of products finished by CNC grinders in pistons, shafts, wine openers, etc.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Grinder
The common CNC grinders we use serve two purposes; one is for finishing surfaces, and we use the other to finish the inner or outer diameters of a cylindrical workpiece. So, when purchasing a grinder, you should first inspect your products or potential product line to determine the type or customization of the grinder to purchase.
Furthermore, consider the grinding wheel and the type of abrasion used. Why? Because if your product is plastic or wood, you may not finish well with certain types of abrasives. Also, if you’re replacing the CAM system, check if it aligns with the original system.
Additionally, consider the axial movement of the wheel or spindle, though this depends on what you produce and the customization you requested. Finally, keep in mind the cost and maintenance potential of the grinder machine. You can contact your preferred CNC machining dealer for more info.
Prices of a CNC Grinder Machine
Depending on the size and customization, surface grinders can cost between $25,000 to $70,000. The larger/heavy-duty multi-purpose types could cost up to $150,000 to $200,000.
We believe that this CNC machine buyers’ guide has shown you the basic things you need to know to make an informed decision when buying CNC machines. You can contact us for the best equipment for your production needs. Check out our gevallestudies or hulpbronsentrum to learn more right away!