CNC: There Is Still A Place For 3D Printing’s Older Brother
CNC machines have been around for over 50 years. CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled; you instruct the CNC machine on what to do by giving information such as the length, width, height, and other measurements of the object to make to the computer controlling it. Instead of 3D Printing, a CNC machine 3D carves the object you specify. One of the most interesting CNC machines we have come across is the Handibot, it is made by ShopBot Tools in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to carving the handibot can drill and cut, it is a carpenters dream tool. A 3D Printer takes material such as plastic or metal, and starts from the smallest amount of the material it can and builds upon it until you get the object you want; this is known as additive manufacturing. A CNC machine, in this case the Handibot, you would start with a piece of material larger than the object you want to create and cut, drill, and carve (subtractive manufacturing) until you get your finished product. Like most 3D Printers the Handibot is portable so you no longer have to be restricted to your workbench/shed! Look at the fork below; think of the CNC machine taking a blue block of plastic laid on a table and then cutting bits of that plastic away, then carving the prongs of the fork. A 3D Printer starts with the plastic in the filament and then proceeds to draw the fork on the table with the plastic.
There is no reason for CNC machines and 3D Printers to compete with one another but rather there is a place for both. 3D Printers are best for molding while CNC machines for carving. Both 3D Printers, such as the Rigidbot on Kickstarter, and the Handibot can bring manufacturing back to your community and with 3D Printers and CNC machines becoming more affordable and user-friendly, you can be a manufacturer! Kickstarter is a tool to gather funding for various projects in the 3D Printing and CNC machining world and beyond. See the Handibot in action below and make sure to visit the Handibot’s Kickstarter page for more information!