Humanity has engaged in metalworking since well before recorded history began. The most ancient societies that we modern humans are aware of – the Persian Empire, the Ancient Egyptians, and even the earliest known human civilisation, the Sumerians – all worked metal to craft tools, weapons, or armour. The Sumerians were responsible for the world’s first metal alloy, bronze, crafted from smelting tin and copper together. Yet it would be the 1700s, some 6000 years later, that the first metal lathe would be invented, allowing the metalworking process to be industrialised.

What Is CNC Tooling?

Our technology has progressed hugely in these past few thousand years, and modern-day metalworking comes in the form of CNC tooling. CNC stands for computer numerical controlled, which refers to the use of computers to operate incredibly specific movements around an automated metal lathe, producing even tiny parts with precision.

How Does CNC Tooling Work?

CNC operates on the standard metrics we use to denote width, depth, and height. The CNC lathe will map its tooling based on the X, Y, and Z axes, translating them to the front-back, left-right, and up-down movements. This system is a universal approach that can be used with any number of tool tips or attachments like high-pressure water jet cutters or laser cutters with ease.

What Material is Best For CNC Tooling?

Many metals are used to create the different tools that can be used to cut, drill, or mill your desired material into the final part or product you need. Industry favourites include a commonly used alloy blending iron with tungsten, vanadium, and cobalt, affectionately known as “high-speed steel” for its ability to withstand high temperatures, allowing it to be used at higher speeds than older high carbon steels.

But modern-day developments have yielded even more refined alloys to use in industrial tooling. Once such example is tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide is the ridiculously heat resistant blend of tungsten – the heavy metal with the highest melting point on the periodic table – with carbon, the element with the highest melting point overall. The resultant milling cutters crafted from this alloy exhibit incredible strength and the ability to withstand unbelievable heat and pressure. Carbide end mills can only be cut and polished with the use of harder materials created from diamond variants, and are created from some of the strongest materials on the planet to be able to tackle any tooling task with ease.