Rise of the CNC Machines: Small Business Opportunities from Maunfacturing Technologies

CNC machining is a technology that was once only available to large scale industries and manufacturers. But in the past few decades, the technology has become more and more ubiquitous and is now used by many all over the country as a profitable side hustle. We’ll take a look at what CNC machining is and how many creative people were able to leverage it and become financially independent.

What is CNC Machining?

First, what exactly is CNC machining?

The “CNC” stands for “computer numerical control” and the “machining” can be anything from a milling machine to a lathe machine or a drill, bore, grinder, laser, and many others.

How does it work?

A computer program gives numerical inputs to guide the machine, making precise cuts on the material which can be anything from wood to metal to wax or plastic. A CNC machine can carve material much more efficiently and precisely than a human-controlled machine.

The first numerical controlled machines were conceived in the 1940s using punched tapes to direct the cuts of the machine. During the 1950s, programmers developed various languages used by computers to instruct the machines. Since then, innovation has continued, making them more efficient and widely available.

Nowadays, programs and machines are available, not just to manufactures, but to everyday individuals.

What are its Applications?

CNC Machining is widespread throughout the manufacturing industry. One of the most common applications for this technology is metal removal and fabrication.

One example is the automotive industry. In order to produce the gears and shafts for vehicles, a precise and efficient method for cutting metal is required. The rounded or square edges or threaded parts need to be incredibly precise and consistent and CNC machines do it better than any human-operated machine can.

CNC lasers or flame and plasma cutters are commonly used in metal fabrication industries as well. The machines can cut and weld raw materials for a variety of applications from automotive to construction and much more.

CNC Machining Has Become More Widely Available

In the past decade or two, there has been a trend among manufacturing technologies in which the scale is becoming increasingly smaller. Although once only available to large scale industrial and manufacturing operations, technologies such as CNC machining, laser cutting, and 3D printing are now accessible to individuals who have found creative uses for such technologies.

One of the biggest contributors to this trend is cost reduction. Technologies that once cost manufactures tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars are now available for much much less. Inventables, for example, released a CNC machine for under two thousand. Something that was unheard of less than a decade ago.

In addition to cost, improvements in technology are making it more ubiquitous. As companies pour more resources into the coding and programming side of CNC, the barrier to use the machine is lowered. Companies are focused on making the user interface as intuitive as possible so that special training is no longer required.

Side Hustles and Small Businesses

With the increased accessibility of technologies like 3D printing and CNC machining, creative and entrepreneurially minded folks are able to take advantage of this in unique ways.

It’s common for companies to offer payment plans on these machines, further driving down the barrier to entry. And with access to cheap materials like wood or plastic, side hustlers and small business owners are able to become profitable very quickly.

There are countless success stories of people who, either out of curiosity or desire for a creative outlet, purchased a CNC machine. Many used social media to sell their creations and before they knew it, they were running their own small businesses. Soon enough, they had a profitable side hustle or became financially independent and were able to commit themselves full time to something they enjoyed doing.

CNC machines are among the many technologies that are revolutionizing, not just industry, but the everyday lives of people. CNC machines, laser cutters, and 3D printers are becoming ever more accessible to hobbyists and entrepreneurs.

As innovations in manufacturing make these technologies cheaper and more efficient for big companies, it’s also making them increasingly accessible for individuals. It’s an exciting future for technologies of this kind.

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