CNC spinning is the process of spinning metal on a lathe operated by a computer-controlled machine. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Controlled lathe, which requires little human interaction to shape the metal. Computer-operated lathes are popular in today’s world because they can produce precise results that a human operator would be unable to do. CNC spinning machines also can work faster than human workers, and cost less and usually have fewer problems than human workers. For these reasons, many factories are replacing older, human-operated lathes with computer-operated lathes to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
I had the chance to see a CNC lathe in action a few days ago, and the process was both fascinating and informative.
Before the process started, a human operator placed a sheet of aluminum onto the lathe and set it into place. The machine then automatically locked the sheet into place to keep it from flying off the machine while the lathe was spinning. The employee pressed a button to get the lathe to start spinning. After than, the human operator could leave the area and perform a different task because the computer took over the shaping process.
A second machine applied pressure to the metal with a rotating bar, which started to shape the flat metal piece into a rounded shape. This particular lathe was forming a cylindrical can shape, and the machine applied just enough pressure to transform the flat sheet into the desired dimensions of the can. The machine first shaped the bottom of the can, then moved on to the top of the can and shaped that into the desired dimensions as well. The entire process took about 2 minutes to complete. In the very last stages, an additional roller helped shape the lip of the can to roll the edge and eliminate sharp edges.