December 28, 2021

What is the purpose of a CNC machine?

What is CNC

CNC stands for Computerized Numerical Control, and it is a computerized manufacturing process with pre-programmed software and code controls for production equipment. CNC machining controls complex machinery, such as grinders, lathes, and turning mills. 

These cut, shape, and create different parts of machines. A combination of machinery and computer programming skills produces high-quality metal and plastic parts. CNC machinery allows CNC operators to turn a piece of wood or metal into a great machine part.

SHARK HD510 CNC Machine

What is a CNC machine?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and is the automated control of machining tools such as drills, lathes, mills, and 3D printers. These are manufacturing and industrial applications.

The manufacturing process run by the CNC machine involves computerized controls and machine tools used for removing layers of material from a stock piece. These stock pieces come either in wood, plastic, glass, or metal. A CNC machine allows precision and accuracy in the production runs.

Types of CNC machine

1. CNC Lathe Machine

Lathe CNC machines are capable of turning materials during operation. They have fewer axes than CNC milling machines. That makes them shorter and more compact. CNC lathe machines of a lathe at the center. 

The role of the lathe is to manage and transfer material programmatically to the computer. The CNC lathe is fast and accurate when it comes to function. When done with the setup, a semi-skilled worker can operate it. That does not stop it from being a mass-production machine. 

2. CNC Milling Machine

A CNC milling machine has built-in tools for drilling and cutting. The materials are inside a milling CNC machine. The computer leads the tools to drill or cut them. Most of the CNC machines are available in 3 to 6-axis configurations. 

They produce gears like spur gear and drills. The workpiece bore and slots by inserting part programs into the system. It is easy to operate for mass production, such as a capstan and turret. However, there is no programmed fed system. The parts made by this machine are precise in dimensional tolerance.

3. CNC Drilling Machine

The CNC drilling machine is for mass production. They have a multi-function machining center that is mingled and sometimes twisted. When it comes to tool changes, the variation of hole diameter is reduced.

The fastest machine size for drilling holes has multiple spindles in the turret with drills of different diameters pre-mounted for drilling. It performs reaming, counterboring, and tapping holes.

4. CNC Grinding Machine

The CNC grinding machine is a performance tool that comes with precision. It uses a rotating wheel to cut metal away from the metal. CNC grinding machines are for camshafts, ball bearings, transmission shafts, and other working pieces. These require an accurate and correct finish.

Multiple pieces made using a CNC grinding machine are cylindrical. These machines are for computerized numerical control.

5. CNC Laser Cutting Machine

The Laser-cutting CNC machines cut through hard materials. However, they use a laser to perform this task instead of a plasma torch. They offer a high degree of accuracy. However, they are not as effective as plasma torches.

Laser-cutting CNC machines use any of the three types of lasers, CO2, neodymium (Nd), or yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG).

6. CNC Plasma Cutting Machine

What makes this machine similar to milling CNC machines, is that they are also used to cut materials. The difference comes from their milling counterparts when running the operation by applying a plasma torch.

A plasma cutting machine is a method that cuts using electric materials using an accelerated stream of hot plasma. These CNC machines feature a high-powered torch that cuts through rough materials like metal.

History of CNC machining

The emergency of CNC machining goes back to the 1940s when the first Numerical Control machines emerged. However, the turning machines appeared before then. The CNC machine replaced handcrafted techniques and increased precision in 1751. It would take time before the idea of making a modern CNC production company started.

The machining techniques that led to CNC manufacturing marked the beginning of industrialization. CNC machining introduced the coming of 3D files into a computer. These run a program that controls the motion of tools within a machining center. The process is automated, from the axis and speed of rotation of cutting tools to achieving the desired dimensions of the part.

What do CNC machines make?

  • Aerospace parts
  • Metal automotive components
  • Wooden decorations 
  • Plastic consumer goods pieces

CNC procedures

Man standing next to a cnc cutter
  1. Learn and understand the code to develop programs.
  2. Make a two- or three-dimensional computer-aided drawing. It has to be in line with your desired end product.
  3. Translate the computer-aided drawing into computer code. The translation process makes the CNC system read and execute the desired functions.
  4. The machine operator gives the new code a trial run to ensure precision in the coding.
  5. The procedure finishes when the machine programming works without error. If there are mistakes present in the G-Code, the operator will fix them. Once fixed, they will re-test the machine.
  6. Once the CNC system is activated, the cuts are programmed into the software. It will tell the corresponding tools and machinery what to do.

Common Software

  • VCarve Pro
  • Autodesk Fusion 360 
  • Inkscape
  • AutoCAD. 

What do you need for a CNC machine?

The CNC machine has been lately popular in the industries since it makes multiple products. These include automotive, sport, fashion, firearm aerospace, marine tools, equipment, and accessories. Many companies use CNC machines for both simple and complex products. That means both amateurs and experienced users find the CNC useful. 

Using the CNC machine does not mean you have to go way out of your budget as you make products. It accommodates multiple accessories for any use. These range from small to big items. Some professional CNC machines are not affordable, if it brings money, it is worth it. There are still low-budget machines that you can afford as a beginner, amateur, hobbyist, and DIYer. 


The CNC machine makes signs with multiple, creative designs that help you appreciate the machine. 

Phone cases

Making phone cases gives you enough room to exercise your creative skills. You will find it interesting since they are beautiful and durable. There are multiple cases on Amazon for multiple phones. These can often be made with hobby CNC machines.

Phone stand

A phone stand is made of wood or metal and keeps your hands relaxed and free. That allows you to multitask. The simple craft removes the frustration of failing to use your hands when holding your phone. 

Item holder

An item holder is there to help you keep your items, such as wallets and glasses. It also works as a key holder. Keep personal items you frequently use and carry around. It keeps workspaces organized and in one place. 

CNC machine parts

CNC machine parts are metal. Unlike the mentioned items, the CNC machine parts are complex to make. You find these on Amazon. Make the spare parts for the machine. 

Jewelry and accessories

You can make beautiful jewelry onthe CNC machine. There is a wide range of fashion in wood and metal. The machinist has to pay attention to detail and showcase creativity. 

What was the primary goal of inventing the CNC machine?

A milling machine was built to use motorized axes to produce helicopter blades and stiffer skins for aircraft.

What can you cut with a CNC machine?

  • Wood, MDF, and Plywood.
  • Acrylic and Plexiglas.
  • Aluminum, brass, and metals.

Alternatives to Using a CNC Machine

  • Laser cutter.
  • Milling machine.
David D. Hughes

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