CNC (computer numerical control) prototyping is a fairly new process in the field of machining that allows for better efficiency through higher levels of automation, and by making the machine and its computer controls carry out all the work. While CNC prototyping machines are complex and expensive, they almost immediately pay for themselves by lessening the workload and precluding errors.
The first main advantage of CNC prototyping is that it improves automation, removing the need of an operator for all but a few parts of the work. CNC prototyping machines can be left to itself for hours or even days if needed, allowing operators to perform other tasks. As well, this allows a company to employ less operators, hence saving on overhead. Safety is increased when there is no operator, because then any damage occurring after a potentially hazardous machining error will be confined to the machine itself. CNC prototyping machines can also work considerably faster than human machinists, being stronger and able to continue without breaks. They can also work late at night, when the majority of the workers have gone home, since machines do not need to be concerned about sleep or being paid for overtime hours.
The second biggest advantage to CNC prototyping is that it produces exactly the same result every single time. Even the best human operator will have small variations among finished outcomes, but a CNC machine will generate exactly the same result at all times. This is truly important in the modern era of uniform and transposable parts, where a single problematic cut can make the whole machine useless. All that will be necessary is one program to be developed and installed into the machine. Then the machine can toil away at however many work pieces are needed, producing an exact replica down to thousandths of an inch each and every time.
The third important advantage to CNC prototyping is the flexibility of the machine. Although humans are obviously more trainable and flexible than machines, a CNC machine can be fully reprogrammed in a matter of hours to generate a totally different product. It is hence possible to go back to old programs or install new programs whenever a new work piece must be produced. This gives CNC prototyping machines a huge advantage over other machines, being easy to shift to a totally different product output without requiring new parts to be installed or a overhaul of core components. This also makes sure that CNC prototyping machines can cope with customer demand, because they can readily shift from parts that are in surplus to parts that are lacking, in case a need arises.