CNC Control Systems – Unsung Heroes Of The Machining World

Ever wondered what actually happens inside your computer when you switch it on? Or in your car engine when you turn the ignition key? And were you glued to your TV screen on the day SpaceX landed the world’s first reusable rocket because you couldn’t quite imagine how such a thing was even possible? Most people don’t stop to think about the million little things that make big things such as computers, cars and rockets work. They just suffer through the bank account FOMO that comes with not being Steve Jobs, Henry Ford or Elon Musk.

Those of us in the CNC machining industry, however? Not so much.

Because while the big names in the computer, automobile and aerospace industries enjoy the adulation, we’re content to smugly bask in the reflected glory. You see, computer numerical control (CNC) machining is one of the key functions behind successes such as those we’ve just mentioned. Without it, there would simply be no computers, cars or rockets because the components required would be almost impossible to produce.

What Are CNC Control Systems?

Essentially CNC machining is a manufacturing process that enables pre-programmed computer software – CNC control systems – to, well, control the movement of factory machinery and tools, including mills, routers, grinders and lathes. Even complex three-dimensional cutting tasks are a cinch, using just a single set of prompts.

CNC control systems are made up of the control unit itself, as well a system of motion control components, such as drives, axis positioning devices and servomotors. They also include sensors that actually allow the control to make its own real-time decisions at times when the machining processes are unattended.

Types of CNC Control Systems

There are three types of CNC machine control systems, namely motion type, control loop and number of axes.

Motion Type CNC Control Systems

Depending on the type of machine to be controlled, this category can be split into two:

  • Contouring – works in a continuous path by cutting the material and following a contour of the part.
  • Point to point – both the workpiece and the tool are placed in position, and the tool gets to work.

Loop CNC Control systems

This once again has two sub-categories:

  • Open loop system – programme instructions are sent through the input device, converted to signals by the controller, and then sent to the servo amplifiers.
  • Closed loop system – involves feedback from the control system to both the actual and the programmed input.

Number Of Axes Type CNC Control Systems

This system comprises:

  • Two axes control – such as with a lathe.
  • Two and a half axes control – best for drilling and tapping machines.
  • Three axes control – moves in three dimensions (X, Y and Z axes move simultaneously).
  • Four axes control – like three axes control, but with an extra rotation on the B-axis. Can be used for vertical and horizontal machines.
  • Five axes control – Reduces cycle time and improves accuracy. Gives improved access to undercuts and deep pockets, and offers a good finish.

Whatever your CNC machining needs are, we have the expertise and the CNC control systems in place to ensure flawless delivery. Come and chat to one of our expert consultants, or take a look at our extensive product range.