CNC (computer numerical control) prototyping is a comparatively new process in the machining world that allows for greater efficiency through higher levels of automation, and by having the machine and its computer controls perform all the work. While CNC prototyping machines are pricey and complex, they rather quickly pay for themselves by minimizing the workload and preventing 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 could be left unwatched for hours or, if necessary, even days, allowing operators to spend time on other tasks. This also lets a company hire fewer operators, thus 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 significantly faster than human machinists simply because they are stronger and need no breaks. They can also be operated late at night, when most of the workers would have gone home, since machines do not need to be bothered about being sleepy or getting paid for overtime.
The second biggest benefit to CNC prototyping is that it produces the exact same outcome each and every time. Even the best human operator will have trivial variations among finished outcomes, but a CNC machine will bring exactly the same result all the time. 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 is needed is for one program to be developed as well as 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. Therefore, it is possible to revert back to old programs or install new programs if a new work piece is needed. This gives CNC prototyping machines a great advantage over other machines, because they can easily shift to producing a totally new product without having to install new parts or performing an overhaul of major components. This also guarantees that CNC prototyping machines can meet growing customer demands, considering they can easily shift from producing parts in surplus to parts that are lacking if necessary.