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The History of CNC Machining

Simply put, CNC machining has revolutionized modern day manufacturing and is employed by machine shops in most industries. Nearly every sector relies on CNC machining as a fabrication solution and depends on the high-quality parts created by CNC machines. Below are several reasons why CNC machining is better than conventional machining, and why this technology is crucial to modern manufacturing. It should be noted that each of the factors below contribute to the cost-effectiveness of CNC machining – saving companies time and money and providing a critical competitive advantage. Additionally, simply owning a CNC machine does not translate to CNC machining expertise. Proven manufacturers, like Stanley Machining with over 55 years of experience, combine state-of-the-art CNC equipment with decades of time on tools and machining know-how. Stanley Machining also consistently invests in the future with cutting-edge technologies, like 5-axis CNC machinery and the latest software programs like CAD and CAM.


  • Higher Production Efficiency: CNC machining is highly automated, resulting in more rapid production and increased efficiency. CNC machines can create a complex part in just minutes. Unlike humans, computers and machines do not need breaks or shift changes, thus, CNC machines can operate 24-7, only needing to stop for routine maintenance or repairs. High production efficiency allows CNC machines to manufacture higher volumes that were previously infeasible – transforming manufacturing forever.

  • Higher Precision: CNC machining is known for its high precision and product quality. The machine executes the same program every single time for a given part. When compared to manual machining, the computer-driven CNC process is more repeatable and less prone to error. CNC templates only need to be designed once and then can be replicated over and over again – hundreds or thousands of times. This level of repeatability is unmatched by other machining technologies – allowing for mass production of the exact same part.

Having challenges with the repeatability or quality of your machined parts? Contact the team at Stanley Machining to learn more about our high-precision CNC machining solutions.

  • Increased Complexity: One of the key advantages that is often underestimated is the flexibility and versatility that CNC machining offers manufacturers. CNC processes are able to fabricate geometries that would be impossible with conventional methods. CNC enables opportunities for more complex and intricate shapes and sizes of parts. Additionally, the computer program can easily be adjusted as necessary to keep up with customer specifications and requirements over time, making CNC a very nimble solution.

  • Improved Safety: One advantage of CNC machining that should not be overlooked is better personnel safety. Conventional machining places operators in direct contact with operating equipment. With CNC machining, however, machine operators are typically not in close proximity to the machines during operation, and in many cases are located behind a partition or wall – significantly reducing the risk for injuries.


History of CNC Machining Technologies


The CNC machines present in today’s machine shops have evolved over time. The precursor to modern day CNC technology was a NC (Numerical Control) machine that was first introduced in the 1940’s. These machines used a system of punched tape to relay the desired part geometry to the motorized NC machine. NC machines were a huge upgrade from manual machining operations, but still had challenges. For example, it was nearly impossible to modify a part design once the tape had been punched.


In the 1960’s and 1970’s computing advancements were made and digital machining emerged – leading to the first CNC machines. The part specifications were entered into the computer using a special software. Then, the software controlled the machine operating conditions such as speed and location. The development of CNC machines allowed manufacturers to produce higher quality products at a much faster pace.


Over the next few decades, CNC machining continued to advance. Software that enabled CNC machinery rapidly developed including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) programs.


Modern CNC machining is more heavily automated via robotics. This allows for even more streamlined operations and higher productivity. Today’s CNC machines are also able to operate on 5 axes simultaneously – a huge advancement from the original CNC machines which were mostly limited to 2 axes. Most recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) resulted in the digitalization of manufacturing. The use of sensors allows machinery to collect data real-time and adjust operations based on the data collected – further improving quality and consistency from part to part.


As designers and manufacturers continue to push the envelope of CNC machining, it is safe to say that CNC machines are not done evolving.


History of Stanley Machining


In a downtown Chicago garage, with one lathe and a desk in the corner, the vision of what was to eventually become Stanley Machining & Tool Corporation was born. For over 55 years the company’s dedication and expertise has resulted in a strong foundation and experience that can only be built with time on tools.


From American dream to global leader in precision CNC machining, Stanley Machining continues to provide unsurpassed expertise and value as a true partner with its customers. We serve commercial and industrial sectors across a range of markets including defense, power, aerospace, and oil & gas.


We take pride in our quality assurance program - we are ISO 9001 certified and our AS 9100 certification is underway. We continuously re-invest in state-of-the-art equipment and highest caliber quality professionals. Stanley is a women-owned small business with over 125 employees and 200 pieces of CNC equipment under 400,000 sq. ft. in two locations.


We anticipate with excitement the next 50 years as we continue to evolve, exploring new technologies and welcoming new generations.


Looking for a proven high-precision CNC machining partner? Contact us today to see how we can assist, or give us a call at 847-426-4560.

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