The History of Computer Numerical Control

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Institute of Technical Trades

Today, Computer Numerical Control is an extension of what was once Numerical Control. It refers essentially to the concept of controlling automated machine tools via programmable computers. Clearly, with the older system of Numerical Control, a computer wasn’t involved, but today the technology has advanced in leaps and bounds (and continues to advance every year). CNC has set the stage for a tremendous upsurge in productivity – it’s an environment where machine tools can operate automatically, and without the attention and oversight of an operator.

Historically, the first commercial Numerical Control machines were used in the early 1950's, and operated with “punch tape”. And although a proven method, the so-called “new” technology was not readily accepted by manufacturers. In the late 1950's, Numerical Control began to capture the interest of more and more manufacturers, but still with some problems and issues that required attention. Things became more manageable when industry groups standardized the operational aspects of NC, bringing some order and commonality to the manufacturing sector.

Over the years, as CNC technology gained acceptance (with proven results), manufacturers began to replace older technologies and manual machining methods with Computer Numerical Control. And while the United States launched the CNC technology revolution, Germany and Japan became more successful in enhancing the technologies and bringing down unit costs. In more recent years, microprocessors have brought down unit costs even more, and have made CNC technology much more accessible to smaller manufacturing companies, as well as individuals.

Today, CNC machine lathes and CNC milling machines are dominant in manufacturing. Whether it’s metal cutting machines, or woodworking machines, the technology is being used universally, and with advanced applications emerging every year. As for the CNC machinist, CAD programs, CAM programs, and other computer software are the basis for designing and fabricating almost every product that consumers use on a daily basis. Indeed, like the 1950’s and 1960’s, advances and innovations in technology will continue to revolutionize throughout the 2000’s.

Modern day manufacturers are continually modernizing equipment and methods. At the same time, highly trained CNC operators are quickly replacing traditional machinists. It all means that market demand for CNC machinists is growing. And at the Institute of Technical Trades, future CNC specialists are being trained to meet this demand. Indeed, ITT graduates are well equipped, with specialized skill sets, and the technical know-how that employers are seeking. Registered as a Private Career College, ITT is graduating CNC operators for very well paying jobs.

In terms of the future, many industries assert that 40% of their upcoming job positions will be in technology. It means that employers will be looking for skilled workers, who have appropriate technology training, and who are certified in their field. At ITT, training and instruction covers every facet of Computer Numerical Control – a teaching environment where students become experts with state-of-the-art technology, machine tools, and software. More importantly, training is based on real-life industry expectations and tolerances.

At ITT, graduating CNC students are equipped to meet the demands and challenges of industry, regardless of which career direction is chosen.
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