Computer numerically controlled (CNC) punching is a sheet metal manufacturing technique produced by special punch presses.
These machines can be either a multi-tool turret design or a single head and tool rail (Amada). The CNC punching machine is technically programmed to move a metal sheet in an X and Y direction to accurately position the material under the punching ram, ready to form a hole.
The processing range for typical CNC punch presses is 0.5mm to 6.0mm thickness. This is the set standard for a number of materials – including galvanised, zintec, steel, aluminium and stainless steel. Shapes can also be predetermined.
The machine can also punch 3D forms such as screw thread plunges, electrical knockouts and dimples. Some advanced units even can fold small tabs, knock sheared edges and tap threads without any tool witness marks.
This makes the machine incredibly productive within the component cycle time.
CNC programming is the computer-aided manufacturing (CAD) aspect of CAD/CAM. Information about a design may be displayed in a 2D format such as DWG or DXF files or a 3D file format. This information is then utilised to produce flat sheet pressing and assign the right tooling to create the desired component.
The software can be used to establish the most effective component from a given sheet metal size, known as the CNC nest. The higher the number of elements that can be created from a panel, the cheaper each CNC component becomes.
Contemporary software packages can assist the automation process in achieving the maximum yield from a provided panel. As a component designer that will be CNC punched, you don't have to know the exact specifications of how this may be achieved. However, it might still be useful to have this information in mind when designing a component that is to be CNC punched at some point.
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