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Predicting 2021 Trends in the CNC Machining Industry
(Photo : Predicting 2021 Trends in the CNC Machining Industry)

The circumstances of 2020 have accelerated the CNC industry's technological innovation. With an increased focus on automation and waste reduction, accompanied by a renewed sense of urgency, 2021 promises a series of exciting trends that will change the face of the industry.

"Right now - as it's harder and harder to find good programmers and operators of machinery - with manufacturing being on the rise, many companies are looking more to automation and machines with attached robots to help keep up with the pace of the market," explains says Tom Kohm, President & CEO of Premier Equipment, the largest seller of used CNC machines. 

Below are four more CNC trends likely to emerge in 2021. 

1. Manufacturing as a Service Will Continue Gaining Popularity

Manufacturing as a service (MaaS) has made its way into the CNC industry over the last couple years, but look for it to gain broader acceptance going forward. MaaS uses networked resources to accomplish manufacturing tasks. CNC machines are located in a central location and the cost of maintenance and operation is spread across subscribers. 

MaaS gives companies added agility, productivity, and cost savings through reduced labor expenses. As fallout from the 2020 pandemic persists, look for companies to explore an expanding network of supply chains through MaaS. 

2. The IIoT Will Dominate Emerging Technology

IIoT stands for "The industrial internet of things." IIoT allows networked CNC machines to communicate with one another without the need for a human operator. While the IoT itself is nothing new, it has recently found its way into the precision computing of the CNC machining industry. 

Through IIoT, companies can make their manufacturing processes quicker, safer, and higher quality. We can expect a greater level of process automation in 2021 as the industry will be searching for methods of increased efficiency and reduced waste. 

3. The Use of 6-axis Machining Will Expand Rapidly

The 6-axis CNC milling machine first emerged sometime in 2019. For years, the 3-axis machine was the go-to machine. In recent years, the 5-axis machine, capable of performing seamless rotations around the X and Y axes, has become popular. The 6-axis machine allows an additional rotation around the Z axis, making for incredibly fast cut times. Look for the 6-axis machine to become an industry staple this coming year. 

4. There Will be an Increased Focus on Waste Product Reduction

It is no surprise that COVID-19 has sent supply chains worldwide into a tailspin. While raw materials have always been a precious resource, 2021 will be marked by increased attention to wise materials usage. One strategy is creating scale models of components using 3D printing methods rather than experimenting with design on actual CNC equipment.  

CNC Beyond 2021

Despite this year's unanticipated market interruptions, manufacturing continues to be an essential, booming industry. In order to be more adaptable in the face of future crises, companies are turning toward automated manufacturing methods to ensure wise stewardship over their resources and products. Look for rapid advancements in CNC machinery to lead the way over the next year and beyond.