A Fascinating Insight Into The History Of CNC Routing

In case you wondered, “CNC” stands for Computerized Numerical Control. CNC routing is one of those things that most people seldom know about. But without it, many of the precision-cut items we use each day would not exist! 

If you want to learn more about CNC routing, it’s important first to take a trip back in time to learn about how the concept got created. It’s equally as important to learn why there was a need to develop such a widely-used way of machining. Are you ready to take a trip back in time? Good! Keep reading to find out more about the fascinating world of CNC routing! 

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1949 – the idea was born 

It might seem hard to believe. But, more than 66 years ago, the idea to create a machine capable of drilling and cutting according to commands was born. You have a person called John Parsons to thank, as he is widely known as the godfather of CNC routing and machining.

The concept of numerical control began as there was a need to craft precision-cut “skins” for military planes. The US Air Force spearheaded several research projects at MIT. After the planning stage, the construction of a rudimentary device soon began. 

1951 – the world’s first CNC routing machine got built 

Two years after the initial research and planning stage, a prototype device got built in the form of a milling machine. It was based on a heavily-modified 28-inch Cincinnati Hydro-Tel milling machine. 

The device consisted of several hydraulic transmissions that had lead screws connected to them. Thanks to its design, the machine was able to produce a small motion from each electrical pulse it had received. 

Although the system doesn’t sound like it did anything spectacular, it was a big innovation at the time. There was nothing available that automated cutting process; everything was done by hand. 

Who is John Parsons? 

Earlier I mentioned a guy called John Parsons that got credited with the idea of CNC routing and machining. But just who is he? 

It turns out that Mr. Parsons worked for his father’s machining company as both a machinist and then a salesman. He came up with the idea to build a machine capable of producing precision parts when trying to solve a problem with helicopter rotors of all things! 

Design evolution 

As the years went on, the process of Numerical Control became computerized. Hence the term Computerized Numerical Control (CNC). These days, companies like Trade CNC use state of the art CNC routers to create bespoke, precision parts. 

The original machines of the 1940s and 1950s are crude and archaic by today’s standards. They comprised of punched tape systems back in those days. Today, we use modern computers with not a sign of magnetic tape in sight! 

On a serious note, what we must remember is that they paved the way for the success of today’s CNC routing industry. 

Nowadays, all the products we use in our daily lives are as a result of modern CNC routing technology. From the chairs we sit on to the computers we live; there will be at least some parts that got created using CNC routers.