Tuesday May 24, 2022

What is CNC Machining and How Does It Work

CNC machining, which stands for “computer numerical control machining,” is a manufacturing technique that is widely adopted.

What is CNC Machining

CNC machining, which stands for “computer numerical control machining,” is a manufacturing technique that is widely adopted. CNC machines fabricate the intended products through a subtractive process, meaning carving out the designed shape out of a block of the original material. CNC machining includes drilling, milling, and turning.

How CNC Machining Work

As its name suggests, CNC machining is controlled by computer programming codes. To make CNC work, human intervention is also needed in most of the CNC manufacturing shops. Let’s dig a little deeper and explore the four process of CNC machining’s operation under the control of both humans and computers.

Design CAD Drawing

Before the CNC machines start to work, a CAD model has to be designed. A CAD model includes a 2D drawing or 3D solid parts design. There are abundant factors that put limits on the design for the CAD model, such as the tooling’s shape, CNC machine types, and tooling’s capability. Furthermore, the materials’ properties also matter when it comes to designing the CAD models.

Convert Format

After finishing the CAD design, the engineers will convert the CAD model into a CNC-compatible file format, such as STEP or IGES. Then, the engineers will run through the converted formats on computer-aided machining (CAM) software, and this is when the programming codes are generated. The codes will then act as instructions for the CNC machines.

Machine Setup

The third step involves the operators setting up the CNC machines and attaching tools to the machines. Usually, the machining process requires various sizes of cuts, and therefore demanding distinct tool sizes. Consequently, this step of preparing different tools has to be done manually.

Execute Operations

With everything set up and ready to go, the CNC machines will start executing the machining commands, cutting and carving out the designed product. Due to its subtractive manufacturing nature, CNC machining is compatible with a wide range of materials including woods, metals, plastics, and wax.


All in all, CNC machining is one of the most critical and fundamental manufacturing methods in the present day. Because of its characteristics of functioning based on programming codes, CNC machining can fabricate complicated products that have sufficient details with high repeatability. Combining with its excellent compatibility with wide-ranging materials, CNC machining is an ideal manufacturing way to produce a mass amount of products that are made out of different materials.

For people who need a medium or high production volume of CNC machining parts, tasks can be well finished with the help of a professional manufacturing company. RapidDirect is an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of rapid prototyping services, whose CNC machining service features streamlining the manufacturing process with automation, wide range of compatible materials, a high degree of accuracy and precision and rapid manufacturing for medium to high production volumes.

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