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Rapid Prototyping - CNC Machining of Prototype Components
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The abbreviation CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, and refers specifically to a computer "controller" that reads G-code instructions and drives the machine tool, a powered mechanical device typically used to fabricate metal components by the selective removal of metal. CNC does numerically directed interpolation of a cutting tool in the work envelope of a machine.
Typical CNC machines used to produce rapid prototyped parts include CNC machining centres, CNC milling machines, CNC lathes, 5 axis CNC milling machines, and CNC machines combining a CNC lathe with a milling head to turn and mill in one setup. Ultrasonic milling machines and laser machining methods can also be used for the machining of hard materials such as ceramic, carbides and tungsten.
Parts can be rapid prototyped using CNC machining by removing metal from solid pieces to produce the final shape. A wide variety of materials can be machined such as metals, plastics, castings and wood. CNC machine tool paths can usually generated directly of the design CAD data either 2 dimensional drawings or 3 dimensional models. Castings can be rapid prototyped using CNC machining techniques and a 'as-cast' finish imparted by sand blasting afterwards.
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