High tech cnc carving has taken school projects a long way from a hammer, chisel and a block of wood that wound up being a birdhouse for Mom. Today’s students are using CAD programs and cnc machines to make a carving that includes intricate design features. The experiences help give them a running start with the skills they will need for tomorrow’s job market. Cnc carving is the process of using a computerized machine carving away the unwanted material from a stock piece, leaving only the computer aided design piece. A computer numerical controlled machine can maintain extremely tight tolerances to produce pieces with a very high level of precision. They can carve virtually any material, including metal, wood, plastic and even ice.
Specialized computer software takes CAD designs and ‘tells’ the cnc machine to cut a specified amount of material from a stock piece with specialized cutting tools. The machine will make a series of precision cuts on multiple axes to yield the finished cnc carving. Virtually any object that can be designed with a CAD program can be carved with a cnc machine.
A cnc carving can be extremely intricate within extremely tight tolerances. Once the machine is set, hundreds and even thousands of identical pieces can be carved. Tolerances as tight as 0.005 inches are possible.
One of the advantages of a cnc wood carving is that when the CAD design is created, the cnc machine can be used to make one or many identical pieces. Students in many schools are learning to come up with an idea for the project and design it with a computer and a CAD program. The design is then controlled number of cuts made by the cnc machine to produce a perfectly carved piece. Elaborate desks, coffee tables and other projects are now being built in many schools with this technology and equipment. Students in schools are given projects as a means of teaching them the technology and the machine operating skills necessary to run this equipment.
Cnc carving skills are necessary for design and development work as well as actual production. These are the important skills these students are learning. They are developing the ideas, creating the designs and using specialized software to translate them into designs to be used by the cnc machines. The actual operation of the machine requires only a minimum of skill relating to properly loading the stock material and removing the finished pieces. These skills development prepare the students for a much different career than could have been imagined when schools taught students to build birdhouses with a hammer, saw and piece of wood.