How CNC machining works

Sat Mar 19 09:32:34 CST 2022

While additive processes like 3D printing make parts from scratch, CNC machining is subtractive, meaning it works in reverse by gradually removing material from a solid block (called a "blank" or "workpiece") to create a finished product. CNC machines are guided by digital design files, which are translated into instructions on how the equipment will cut the workpiece. 

Using computers to automate and control machining processes can greatly increase a manufacturer's productivity. Because multiple CNC machines can use the same design files to make the same series of cuts on multiple uniform workpieces, they can create parts faster than humans.

As a highly reproducible production process, CNC machining has played an important role in manufacturing and has largely contributed to the origins of rapid prototyping. Before the advent of perforated tape and computer numerical control, parts had to be machined by hand. This always creates large errors in the final prototype product, especially when the machine is used for large-scale hand-manufacturing. CNC machining is transforming manufacturing by introducing greater efficiencies into the process, enabling rapid prototyping and mass production with uniform quality and speed. 

Modern CNC machining is a versatile manufacturing process that produces high-precision parts that can be used to manufacture a variety of products in a variety of industries. This includes everything from car chassis and aircraft engines to garden tools and surgical equipment.