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CNC Machines: How it works, and the Benefits

CNC machinery (Computer Numerical Control) is an automated machine control, operated by a coded programmed instruction to process a piece of material to certain specifications. The process is used in industrial applications and manufacturing and is employed in just about any material including metal, glass, plastic, composites, wood, and foam.

This is how the process works; it uses the coded computerized controls to get rid of the upper layers of materials from stock pieces (blanks/ workpiece), to produce a custom shaped and designed part. It also comes with different types of manufacturing processes which have their own benefits and disadvantages.

Types of CNC Machine and their Advantages

Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages of CNC machine, let’s look at some of the types there are;

CNC Laser Cutting Machine

Just like the name suggests, laser cutting means an operation whose cutting processes are done by lasers. In this case, the machine isn’t a direct operator so everything is coded, automated, and fed into the machine, hence, the laser cutting machine. It is mostly used for sheet cutting and gives a better surface finish.

CNC Lathe Machine

It is also widely used as a lathe and again, everything is coded and automated so there isn’t an actual operator. The tools are computerized and programmed for customized operations. One of the reasons why CNC lathes are wildly popular is that they are fast, accurate, and most advanced.

CNC Milling Machine

A milling machine is an operation by which the feeding workpiece passes through a rotating multipoint cutter for metal-removing. It is also used to produce slots, make spur gears, and drill the workpiece bore. CNC milling machines perform the same operation by inserting the coded program into the system. It is greatly used especially for mass production.

CNC Router Machine

This pretty much also works just like the other CNC machinery. The only difference is that most carpenter work like door carvings, interior decorations, signboards, molding, exterior designs, musical instruments, and furniture are done manually. It provides better shapes, designs, and finishes. 

CNC Plasma Cutting Machine

The process used in cutting electrically conductive material by use of hot plasma accelerated jet is what is called plasma cutting. CNC plasma cutting machine is when this operation is done by the Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) system. The process is most similar to laser cutting, only that one mainly uses a laser, and the latter uses hot plasma.

How CNC Machines are Classified

There could only be multiple different laser machines, but you should also know that there are criteria by which they are classified. Check it out below;

By Function or Parts

The different types of CNC machinery are used for different purposes in the industry and are classified by the parts or their functions. As seen above, there are many types but they can be classified into the following main types; CNC milling machines, lathes, drilling, plasma cutters, and router machines.

Some of their functions include creating different shapes and designs, slots, grooves, holes, pockets, notches, and different specialty faces.


Other types of CNC machines are classified by motion. Their main classifications include point-to-point and contouring systems. Point-to-point systems are where the material and tool are placed in specific fixed relative positions, where they are retained throughout the process. Some of the types of equipment in this classification include drilling and boring machines.

On the other hand, contouring systems are where the machine follows a certain specific contour to cut the material. Some of the equipment that falls in this category includes routing machines, lathes, and milling machines.

One Comment

  1. I like that you talked about how CNC machinery is used in industrial applications and manufacturing and is employed in just about any material including metal, glass, plastic, composites, wood, and foam. I was watching a TV show while eating my dinner last night and I saw how CNC machines work, which was pretty interesting. I also heard that there are actually shops nowadays that offer CNC cutting and design services too.

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