What is CNC Machining? Process, Types, and Working

CNC Machining

CNC machines are Computer numerically controlled machines that make a huge place in the manufacturing industry. The CNC machine is a complex machine that a computer controls and you achieve higher efficiency and accuracy levels than the manual process.

If we go back in time, we see how lengthy the manufacturing process was, thanks to CNC machining, which has made things easier. We have various types of CNC machining with different construction and properties.

Read: What are CNC Machine Used For?

Types of CNC Machine

Types of CNC Machine

It is an incredibly efficient machine that is pre-programmed, and computer software controls the movement of the CNC machine. These machines have better capability and reduce the manufacturing process. Thus, the manufacturers can produce the parts in fewer periods with decreased waste.

You can use the CNC machines for various purposes and manufacture several items. However, you require less training as these are not some average machines you know. The CNC machine understands a G-code, a language that only CNC machines can read.

CNC Milling Machine:

The CNC mill machine is a common machining type suitable for cuts for various materials. These machines use numbers and letters to direct the spindle in different directions. The CNC milling is appropriate for many purposes: face milling, shoulder milling, tapping, drilling, and turning. The majority of the CNC mills have three to six-axis configurations.

CNC Lathe:

CNC lathe works by cutting various work pieces. The CNC lathe machine provides the best results than manual lathes. Additionally, they come with fewer axes than milling machines.

CNC Woodworking Machine:

Specialized machines for tasks like routing, carving, and shaping wood. Examples include CNC routers, CNC panel saws, and CNC wood lathes.

CNC Laser Cutter:

Uses a high-energy laser beam to cut and engrave materials like metal, plastic, wood, and acrylic. It’s widely used in industries like signage and metalworking.

CNC 3D Printer (Additive Manufacturing):

Utilizes layer-by-layer deposition of material (usually plastic, metal, or composite) to build 3D objects. Often used for rapid prototyping and producing intricate parts.

CNC Router:

Used for cutting, shaping, and engraving various materials, such as wood, plastic, and aluminum. Popular in woodworking and sign-making.

CNC Plasma Cutter:

Designed to cut through metal using a high-velocity jet of ionized gas (plasma). Commonly used for metal fabrication.

CNC Waterjet Cutter:

Utilizes a high-pressure stream of water mixed with abrasive particles to cut a wide range of materials, including metal, stone, and composites.

CNC Wire EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining):

Uses electrical discharges to shape materials. Ideal for intricate and precise cuts, often used in tool and die making.

CNC Punch Press:

Used for punching holes and shapes in sheet metal. Suitable for high-speed, high-volume production.

CNC Grinding Machine:

Used for precision grinding of surfaces and cylindrical parts. Common types include surface grinders and cylindrical grinders.

CNC Wire Bender:

Specifically used for bending wire or metal rods into desired shapes, commonly used in the production of wire forms and wire products.

CNC Drilling Machine:

If you want to produce round holes in various materials, you can use a CNC drilling machine. It uses a rotating cutting tool to make these holes. However, they are ideal for machine screws or bolts that need assembly. Likewise, you can also use this to make holes for aesthetic and design purposes of the component.

How Does CNC Machining Operate?

How Does CNC Machining Operate

CNC machining is a quick and effective way of working with various materials. It benefits humans as less human intervention will lead to fast process and output. Also, the machine guarantees smooth, consistent, and better performance. You can use CNC machines in manufacturing because they work smartly to produce the desired results.

Note: ensure working while handling the CNC machines. Be careful in using them from the initial design process to the final manufacturing step.

CNC Machining Process and How Does it Work


In the first step, you design the product in CAD, CAM, and CAE format. The designers and experts are there to assist the entire process, and you get the final designing of your product. The process goes further where you examine the various designs for manufacturing purposes. This process is also called DFM (Design for Manufacturing). However, some CAD tools that are in the market have an internal CAM tool. This tool is helpful for the second step, which we will discuss now;

Pre-Processing and Programming:

The second step involves feeding the CNC machines through G-codes and M-codes. The CAM packages then execute these codes, which work as a navigating tool for the cutting tool in CNC machines.

However, if you have fed the design and the design follows the DFM standards, you will intervene in between. But, if you feel it necessary to interrupt, the CNC machinists can intervene to achieve the desired outcome. When you program the G-codes or M-codes, they don’t consume much time as the process proceeds within seconds. If the design process is smooth, the pre-programming will also be smooth.

The second step is dependent on the first step for sure reasons. So, if you followed the DFM well, you have accurate codes that will provide accurate results. However, if there is an issue with the design, it would affect the code. As a result, you will automatically get unfavorable results. So, ensure you execute each step with much clarity and attention to avoid potential unwanted outcomes.


It is the third and the final step of your project. The machining process uses the fed codes to execute the processing and remove extra material from the block. Precision machine tools play an essential role in producing the outcome.

The machinists may use tolerances to get the exact dimensions of the CAD model. Although, some machinists claim that the tolerances increase the costs for the manufacturing unit.

What Role Does a Machinist Play in the CNC Machining?

What Role Does a Machinist Play in the CNC Machining

As already discussed, CNC machining is an automated process where we don’t see much human interaction, but there is a need for human intervention in case of faulty or unexpected outcomes;

  1. The machinists play roles in reading blueprints, sketches, and CAD/CAM files.
  2. They are the ones who create CAE models.
  3. Their job is to align and adjust the cutting tools and other machine materials.
  4. The machinists install, use, and disassemble the CNC machining tools.
  5. Their role is undeniable in observing and setting the machine’s process.
  6. Finally, they evaluate the outcomes to see if they have achieved the desired result.

Compatible Materials for CNC Machining:

CNC machining aims to make life easier and the manufacturing process quicker. The automated step provides ease and accuracy; therefore, they are compatible with various materials that we will discuss now;

Metals: you can use this on several metals such as copper, titanium, brass, aluminum alloys, steel, magnesium, etc.

Plastics: the CNC machine is compatible with acetal, PEEK, polycarbonate, nylon, acrylic, PVC, polypropylene, etc.

Composite: epoxy, fiberglass, Carbon fiber, and phenolic.

Wood: hardwood and plywood.

The CNC supports a wide range of materials; however, consider the following points before you choose the CNC material. Consider its hardness, mechanical properties, part functions, dimensional tolerance, and operating temperature.

Advantages of CNC Machining:

Advantages of CNC Machining

The CNC machining provides many benefits in various industries. Let us discuss some of the main advantages in this section;

It provides Accuracy and Precision: it makes the manufacturing process easier by providing accurate and precise results. Thus, the manufacturer can use it to make parts per the designs. High precision and tolerance permit making product batches with accuracy. Additionally, this automated process decreases the error chances.

It is quick and efficient: the machine has a high investment cost, but you find it more efficient and quicker. It saves you a lot of other add-ups in the long run. So, the initial high cost is negligible for the benefits it provides. So, the operational cost is less. Likewise, the little human error and low production cost make it an ideal option for manufacturers.

Better Capabilities and Capability:

It can carry many tools for various purposes. You can work on several products. The CNC machines have the modern capability to work with workpieces of different sizes, shapes, and textures. On top of all, their compatibility with many products makes them a popular choice for many.

Additional Benefits:

The CNC machines are the best tools as they function 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You only have to switch them off for maintenance purposes.

You can program it with a design and manufacture as many times as you need.

The results will be 100% according to the expectations.

Even the less skilled people can operate this machine. You don’t need regular training to understand the CNC machines.

Final Remarks: Thus, CNC machines are the best tools in mass manufacturing and promoting uniformity. It saves you time and cost in the long run. You get to produce many outcomes in a short period. On top of all, the accuracy and speed make it an ideal investment option.

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