History of Computer Numerical Control

The history of CNC, or Computer Numerical Control machines was brought about in the 1960s by professionals within the aircraft industry. At this time, industries throughout the country were immersed in trying to make production lines for efficient, and this resulted in some very large machinery to deal with some of the more simple production tasks that were required at the time. There are a few factors that paved the way for this machinery in the 60s and they included; the Standard G-Code Language for Part Programs, which was developed by MIT, CAD (or computer aided design which rapidly rose in popularity by the 70s), the rise of the minicomputer and the rise of employment costs throughout the western world.

The Industrial Revolution

While the modern CNC systems as people know them were born in the 1960s, the concept can be traced back to 1775, when John Wilkinson introduced the first cannon-boring machine to the world. The machinery was aimed at producing cylinders which were going to be used by Boulton & Watt’s steam engines, and while it was relatively simple, it paved the way for machinery like it. It was in 1818 that Eli Whitney invented the world’s very first milling machine, which was put to use manufacturing rifles for the government.

The First Numeric Control Machines

It was 1952 before John Parsons invested the first Numeric Control milling machine. It was his idea to allow the computer to read its positioning instructions with the use of punch cards and it also allowed for the first machine to undertake complex tasks, rather than simple or menial ones.

Challenges Associated With Early NC Machines

While NC machines were pacing the way for CNC counterparts, the first users had to struggle in order to make them work. This equipment often came with thick and heavy manuals, and when consultants were called out to assist in resolving issues with the machinery, they were often unable to make much of a difference. The costs of this equipment rendered most quality items out of reach for the ordinary manufacturers, although it would only be a matter of time before they became more affordable.

Promoting the Adoption of CNC Machines

Due to the difficulties that manufacturers often experienced with regards to the earlier versions of CNC computers, many were slow to catch on to the craze. In order to resolve this problem so that the potential of these machines could be realized, the US Army actually purchased around 120 machines and loaned them out to manufacturers throughout the country. Basically, this allowed them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the idea without having to make any risky investments.

The Development of the G-Code

The G-code is a standardized language that allows CNC machines to communicate with each other, and although it is a somewhat complex language, the standardization throughout the world has made it very valuable indeed. The standards were developed by the engineers who were committed to manufacturing the earlier versions of CNC machines, and as the code progressed, so did the capabilities of the equipment. Keep in mind that before this code, manufacturers were in the process of developing their own languages; something that would prove problematic in the long run. The G-code helped to solve many of these issues and make the idea of CNC machines much more popular.

Over time, improvements have been made on CNC machines; this has not only turned them into more effective, precise devices, but also helped to lower the costs of this equipment, thus making it more freely available to companies throughout the world.


Author Bio:
Abco Precision Machining aims to deliver premium quality CNC machined solutions throughout the country, to industries ranging from mining to rail. The Abco team of specialists is knowledgeable and experienced, providing customers with quality service since the company was established in 1996.

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