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During computer numerical control (CNC) machining, production equipment and tools move according to computer software. The software can operate various complex machines, including milling machines, CNC routers, lathes, and grinders. Three-dimensional cuts can be made in one set of instructions using CNC machining. This article will discuss some of the basics of CNC machines and provide comprehensive information on the different types of CNC machines. Suppose you are familiar with the CNC process and how it works. In that case, you will be in a better position to understand the difficulties involved in effectively using CNC machining or cutting data. Remember that CNC machine tools for machining metals, or other materials, differ. The following article will help you better understand the machining process and explain the types of CNC machine tools that will positively improve your facility’s production speed.

Types of CNC machines – characteristics 

Currently, the most popular types of CNC machines are as follows: 

  • CNC milling machine
  • CNC lathe machine
  • CNC drilling machine
  • CNC laser cutting machine
  • CNC grinding machine
  • CNC water jet cutting machine
  • CNC plasma cutting machine
  • CNC electric discharge machine
  • CNC milling machine
  • 3D printer

CNC milling machine

Some of the most popular CNC lathes are milling machines, containing integrated tools most commonly used for drilling and cutting. To position and move the spindles in different ways, the factory develops and converts special programs consisting of letters and numbers (G-code). Every movement and motion of the spindle and tool is guided and directed by the computer code to accurately cut and transform the workpiece into a planned custom part. A CNC milling machine can perform everyday tasks: threading, turning, drilling, face milling, and face milling. CNC milling machines are available in configurations ranging from three to six axes. The three axes in the simplest three-axis CNC represent movement in the X (horizontal) axis, Y (vertical) axis, and Z (depth) axis. CNC milling machines are relatively large and expensive compared to other CNC equipment, such as CNC routers. Some of the better-known manufacturers of large CNC routers are Okuma, Haas, and DMG Mori.

CNC lathe machine

You will do many practical things with this CNC machine. As a rule, they are shorter and more compact than CNC milling machines because they have fewer axes. Its central part is the lathe, which controls the program and sends materials to the computer. It is now often used because of its speed and precision. After initial setup, it can be easily operated by ordinary people. 

CNC drilling machine

Like traditional drills, CNC drills use rotary cutters to make holes in stationary objects. However, CNC drills are more precise and flexible than traditional drills because they rely on CNC technology. For example, holes can be machined by CNC drills with tolerances as small as 0.001 mm. In addition, they work on a wide range of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. In addition, many CNC drills have a tool head that can accommodate multiple drills and allow quick switching during production. If hubs, gear blanks, and machined shafts are to be produced, a CNC drill should be used.

CNC laser cutting machine

CNC laser cutting machines are similar to CNC plasma cutters in their ability to cut hard materials. But unlike plasma cutters, which use plasma, CNC laser cutters use strong and highly focused laser light (ionized gas) to get the job done. CNC laser cutters generally provide higher precision and better surface quality than CNC plasma cutters because the laser has fewer points of contact and dilation than a torch. In addition, CNC laser cutters are significantly more expensive than CNC plasma cutters with the same parameters (accuracy and depth of cut). However, CNC plasma cutters offer more cutting power because plasma is more potent than laser. They are most often used for cutting wood, metal, and plastics. The power of the laser can be adjusted according to the density and hardness of the material, quickly cutting through the material. The shape of the material is usually a sheet in a CNC laser cutter. The material is then precisely cut by the laser beam moving back and forth across it. To make a precise cut, the thermal action of the laser vaporizes or melts the material. CNC laser cutters often produce a range of patterns compared to other cutting devices. The resulting cuts and edges are often so delicate and clean that polishing is no longer required. Therefore, CNC laser engraving machines are usually used to produce parts and parts of engraving machines. Laser engraving is widely used in decorative crafts, including signage, wood art, and glass engraving. When narrow tolerances and precise results are required, use CNC laser cutting.

CNC grinder

This is a well-made tool that separates metal from metal with rotating wheels. Camshafts, ball bearings, drive shafts, and other functional parts that require a fine finish are often peeled on CNC grinders. Cylindrical parts are usually produced using CNC grinders. Different types of workpieces can also be produced using grinders. 

CNC waterjet cutting machine

As the name suggests, CNC waterjet cutting machines use high-pressure water jets to cut materials. CNC waterjet cutting is often the first choice when working with temperature-sensitive materials such as plastics and aluminum, which can melt at high temperatures. Although these machines can only cut with water, additional abrasives such as garnet or aluminum oxide are often added to the water to increase cutting performance. CNC waterjet cutters are more expensive than plasma cutters while comparing their specifications. However, it is cheaper than a CNC laser cutter with the same specifications. One disadvantage of CNC waterjet cutters is that they run slower than CNC plasma and laser cutters. 

CNC plasma cutting machine

Like laser cutters, CNC plasma cutting machines offer high cutting precision and wide-material compatibility. They only differ from laser cutters because they use a plasma flame for cutting. Plasma torches produce high-energy plasma (or electrically charged gas) at temperatures up to 50,000 ° F. Anything conductive is effortlessly cut off by this tremendous heat.

CNC electrical discharge machine

It is also referred to as spark discharge. A unique type of CNC machine uses electrical discharge to work the material into the desired shape. The discharge can damage the material it comes with because it has a temporary effect. CNC EDM machines use it to shape materials by creating controlled sparks. The material is placed on top and bottom of the electrodes, and a computer determines how many discharges the electrodes will generate.

CNC milling machine

A CNC router is used primarily for softer materials and is less precise. The cost of a CNC router is much lower than that of a CNC milling machine. You can buy a high-quality CNC router for less than 800 pln compared to a basic CNC router that costs more than 45,000 pln. CNC routers use computer numerical control to determine the spindle path and machine path to machine materials such as wood, steel, composites, aluminum, foam, and plastics into desired patterns and shapes. The mechanical base, spindle, stepper driver, stepper motor, controller, and power supply are the essential components of a CNC engraving machine. CNC routers speed up production, reducing waste, improving accuracy, and increasing productivity. Most CNC routers work well for creating modest designs, handling basic prototypes, and complex designs in all three dimensions. CNC milling machines are available in various axes, from three to six. 

3D printer

This is a CNC machine that prints one design at a time. CAD and CAM processes are used to develop designs and drawings, which are then reflected with 3D printers. CNC machines are used in 3D printing shops and other constructions.

Advantages and limitations of CNC machining


CNC machines help manufacturers increase productivity and accuracy and reduce the risk of human error by allowing manufacturers to automate various manufacturing operations that would otherwise have to be done manually. In addition, it is worth noting that: 

  • CNC machining is ideal for producing multiple parts
  • A variety of materials can be machined on CNC machines
  • CNC equipment makes items quickly
  • CNC equipment is exact
  • CNC machining has a variety of finishing options.


A CNC machine’s capabilities can be limited by the complexity and age of its control and drive systems. Most CNC controllers support only circular and linear motion. On many machines, arcs are generally allowed only in the basic XYZ plane. The axis of rotation can be treated as linear motion only in degrees and not in space. Two or more axes must interpolate (move together in precise synchronization) to produce arc or linear motion at an angle to the principal axis. Rotary and linear axes can also be interpolated simultaneously. Five-axis machines require precise synchronization of all five axes, which is problematic. It is essential for the machine controller to be able to quickly interpret incoming data, send commands to the drive system and track the speed and position of the machine. Older and cheaper equipment is less efficient in this regard, just as older computers perform demanding tasks more efficiently and faster than modern computers.

Application of CNC technology

Although we usually think of computers from the last two decades, CNC technology has been around since the 1940s. Since then, CNC has evolved significantly and now has a wide range of new applications. Let’s discuss some of the most important applications and advantages of CNC machining.

CNC machines are repeatable

The main advantage of CNC stamping is that once the design is defined, the material can produce as many copies of the design as possible. Once the application is installed, you can save it and use it whenever you want, whether making a plaque, engraving a sign, ornament, or car part.

Dental material

You might be surprised to learn how often dentists use CNC machines, especially when placing dental crowns. Although wood and sheet metal are usually produced using CNC services, they can produce much more. Even crowns and implants can be cut using CNC software because of precise technology. The beauty of this procedure is that it is straightforward to set up and can create a crown that fits precisely where it is intended in the mouth with high accuracy. 

Military equipment 

You’re probably familiar with the controversy surrounding 3D printers due to their ability to produce weapons without serial numbers. However, CNC machines have been around for a long time and have always had this potential. Additionally, CNC machines can even be used to modify rifles by adding grips and other accessories. The only difference with a 3D printer is the amount of material needed to start. Although manufacturing firearms without a license is prohibited, many different firearms companies manufacture their products on CNC milling machines. The military and defense sectors often use CNC manufacturing to produce a variety of weapons in addition to firearms. Much of the equipment across the industry comes from CNC manufacturing.


Even if it is no surprise, CNC stamping is also very useful in the construction industry. Even the most skilled carpenter can find it difficult to achieve the precision required for some jobs, especially when working with existing structures. 


This is a broad term, as the services provided by CNC technology in this field are very diverse. CNC technology is used in a variety of ways by the aerospace, rail, and automotive industries because it provides such a wide range of services. In order to ensure that every part of an airplane functions properly at thousands of feet, each part must be manufactured with high precision. As such, the industry has traditionally relied on machining services. To ensure safety, railroads and automobiles also had to be built properly. Automobile manufacturers must ensure that quality control is their primary focus, as more than 70 million vehicles are produced yearly. There must be unity everywhere. Since machines can provide more regularity than humans, CNC services are very useful in this industry.

Development research

Prototypes are essential for research and development in almost every sector, along with some degree of trial and error. This includes physics, chemistry, biotechnology, carpentry, and other disciplines. Any concept that comes to mind can be realized with masterful precision through CNC machining. Since the beginning, almost every industry you can think of has used CNC to create accurate prototypes and continues to do so.

Niche manufacturing

CNC lathe machines can make just about anything that needs to be made from just the right amount of material. What other machine can make a door, a reel, an electric guitar, and a dental crown in a matter of hours? CNC technology has raised the production standard in all professional and fashion sectors, and the computer control of numerical equipment is improving every day.