What is CNC machining technology?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes computer numerical control systems to automate and control machine tools. CNC machining technology drives the development of modern manufacturing. Understanding how CNC systems work provides insight into their benefits and applications.

Numerical control system

The heart of CNC machining is the control system. This computer interface handles CAD/CAM design and G-code or toolpath programming to direct machine movement. The control system precisely coordinates axis motion, spindle control, coolant, and other functions. CNC systems enable fast, automated precision machining that achieves manufacturing results that are unattainable by hand.

Precision machine tools

CNC (numerical control) relies on advanced machine tools that can move multiple axes under computer control. Precision components such as ball screws, sliding surfaces, linear guides, and servo motors are used in milling machines, lathes, laser cutters, routers, and grinders. These machines can reposition cutting tools or focal points with micron-level accuracy. Tight tolerances, complex geometries, and efficient finishing can be achieved. Machine rigidity and dynamics are critical to accuracy.

Automated manufacturing

Combining CNC machines with tool changers, pallet changers, conveyor systems, and robotic loading and unloading allows for complete production automation. CNC machines allow for lights-out production and high productivity with minimal staffing. Programmable automation also allows for quick changeovers between parts. Setup times can be minimized compared to manual processes. Flexible CNC manufacturing enables rapid prototyping, low-volume production, and high-mix environments.


From milling machines and lathes to newer technologies such as laser cutters and waterjets, CNC machining utilizes precision programmable machine tools, advanced control systems to guide axis movement, and CAD/CAM toolpaths for manufacturing. CNC enables faster, more repeatable, and more cost-effective automated precision machining than manual methods.

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