What is Computer Numerical Control?

Computer Numerical Control is software that uses computer programming inputs to determine the functionality and movements of tools and machines operational in factories. The process has made several complex mechanisms and processes secure and convenient by eliminating the need for manual assistance in the factories.

Complex processes like three-dimensional cutting, drilling, and milling have all been simplified using numerical inputs and digitized commands. Computer Numerical Control, also known as CNC, uses trending methods like SLA, which is a 3D printing technology and SLS and FDM, to design excellent products with the help of pre-programmed commands.

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More about Computer Numerical Control

When CNC becomes operational, it works much like a robot whose movements are pre-determined by its programmer. Whatever a programmer wants to manufacture and design using a machine is fed into the software as numeric commands. Know that CNC itself strives to be flawless, yet the possibility of errors is there as long as the commands are multi-directional. If the cuts and designs are sophisticated, then the machinery is bound to fluctuate at one point or another. Therefore, a program and mechanism must work in harmony and understand each other for maximum efficiency.

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One of the downfalls of this machinery and programming duo can be the lack of compatibility. For instance, a programmer should not feed multiple orders and numerical into the system that will burden the machinery. If machinery is not designed to perform certain functions, then generating codes that are far beyond its understanding will only damage the esteem of the factory and the usability of the products. A computer numerical control system works differently than a binary control machine as the former accepts keyboard commands, and the latter responds to punch cards. The software of the system saves specific numerical commands in its memory and revives them for future operation. This way, programmers don’t have to generate codes from scratch whenever they want to input commands numerically.

Because of its memory and predictive operation, CNC is regarded as the most extensive and intricate computer system.  Factories find using CNC systems in their machine convenient since they can change the codes whenever they desire and tweak the inputs to redefine the whole mechanism.

The history behind CNC Machines

We cannot pin down the exact year and date when CNC machines and systems became operational, but the hype around them surfaced during the 1940s and 1950s. Its mechanism was based on telecommunication technology that utilized data storage to operate and accepted orders as “perforated tape.” The technology that was at work then is punched tape technology, which became outdated soon after the launch of digital computer processing in the 19060s. It used analogs as commands at first and eventually moved to codes and numerals etc.

The Mechanism at Work

Factories use machines to transform raw materials like plastic, blocks, and concrete, etc. into excellent products. These products are designed and shaped as per a controlled process that gives the operators complete autonomy to change the commands whenever they feel like it. But a machine is manufactured as per some set rules and management and cannot perform functions that are beyond its functioning capacity.

How machines work in general?

Manual operation in factories has become obsolete, and a program that commands the system to perform specific specialized tasks is now the new norm. 3D Printing, drilling and other operations use Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) processes and Computer-Aided designs (CAD) to run the machines in factories.

How CNC machines work?

CNC machines follow the same pattern as the other machines, but they use G-codes and numerical values to send commands. CAM and CAD are the constants in CNC systems, and the mechanism is heavily dependent on the codes posted by a programmer. The commands sent by the CNC system are perceived as instructions based on which a CNC machine works and finishes a product.

CNC machines act as per the CNC systems that use G-codes to control the movements, speed, and coordination of the automated tools. In simple words, a CNC system makes it possible for a machine to follow coded commands and act on predetermined patterns. All the movements, speed, and coordination of the tools are pre-programmed and are set to be repeated in continuous cycles without any manual assistance. The convenience and reliability that comes with using CNC machines are received very well by the manufacturing sector. Most importantly, factories that manufacture and design plastic and metal products found immense relief with the advent of CNC machines and their continuous innovation till now.

The process starts with a CAD design that can be either 2D or 3D, which is then translated into G-codes for the system to understand and function. Most programmers and operators prefer to do test runs to weed any system problems.

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Types of CNC Machines

CNC systems and machines have become a necessary part of the manufacturing sector and are crucial for the automotive, construction, agriculture industry. Furthermore, industrial and professional tools are also manufactured using the CNC system, and surgical, garden and development instruments are, to name a few.

CNC machines are an intricate work of technology and digitalization that functions primarily on thermal, electrical and chemical processes. We have compiled a list of CNC machine types that are a crucial part of the manufacturing sector:

Electric Discharge Machines

Electrical Discharge Machines are also known as the sparking machine since it uses electrodes and sparks to cut the material into desired shapes and sizes. The end products are sent to the market after removing unnecessary sections from the original work.

CNC Drills

CNC drills are more or less the same as ordinary drills as its operation requires the machinery to punch drill holes in the product. These holes are of cylindrical nature that is a work multi-directional drill bits that go down in the raw material perpendicular to the surface.

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Manufacturers want vertically aligned holes on a workpiece that are equal in diameter to the size of the drilling nib. The drilling process has different operational implications that go far beyond tapping and reaming.

CNC Mills

Manufacturers use milling machines when they want to remove excess and unnecessary material from the surface of a workpiece. Manual milling is different than CNC milling in operation since the raw material is fed from the opposite direction of the cutting tool, which is drastically different than the CNC milling.

The operational implications of this CNC mechanism are for flat bottom workpieces to shallow cut products along with deep and bottom cavities.


This type of CNC machine cut workpieces in a circular design with utmost precision and velocity. The processes of this machine are so intricate that a manual machine would have never been able to achieve such exceptional results.

Almost all CNC lathes are equipped with axes and respond to G-codes and numerical values instantly. Their functionality is similar to CNC mills, but the circular cuts are unique to their operation.

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