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How Does CNC Machining Work?


CNC machining refers to Computer Numerical Control (CNC), a digitalised computer that automates, monitors, and controls the movement of an industrial machine. Common machines served by the CNC include CNC milling machines, grinder, laser, robot, water jet cutter, router, lathe, and welder. In large plants, the computer is usually installed in the machines while for hobbyists’ machines, its attached externally. The CNC cannot work alone. It requires drivers and mortars to control the movement of the directed machines. With industrial CNCs, there is usually an innovative feedback system that is responsible for monitoring and adjusting the positioning and speed of the cutter.

How do the CNC Machines Work?

A majority of CNC machines require software programs to run. They employ CAM (Computer Aided Machining). CAM is a software package that creates Numerical Control (NC) codes and tool paths. These paths are based on 3D computer models. It’s important to note that the CAM doesn’t run the CNC machine. Nonetheless, the CAM creates the path the machines can follow. CAM programming requires knowledge and skills for running the machines. There are simple programs that inexperienced users can use to operate the CNC machines. However, it’s important to understand the NC codes.

For example, the CNC cutting machines can be run in a simple way. The NC code, in this case, has to be simple for the machine to execute the instructions. The commonest NC language used is the ISO Code, also known as the G-Code. The G-Code can be modified to work on different machines. Accompany like Stoney CNC advises on codes that are suitable for their CNC products. Their CNC products include Stepcraft CNC systems, Large Format CNC systems, and Mill-It Range CNC systems. They provide you with the understanding of the pathway involved in the CNC machines.

How is the Machine Code Generated?

First, a 3D design is employed by the CNC software to generate an effective tool path. It’s wise to use CNC machining that is fast. An automated feed system is always a good option when generating the tool path. Secondly, the generated tool paths are reflected on the screen. Optionally, you can choose to simulate or edit the tool paths till you get results that are satisfactory. Thirdly, after getting convincing results, you should run the sequence through a post-processor.

This software is an effective translator of the tool path. If you prefer to edit the code details of the post-processor, you can go ahead and do it. Lastly, the final code gets transmitted to the CNC cutting machines or any other machines set for the job. This is often done via file transfer. You can also use serial connections in the generation of results. In this case, the machine is directly connected to the computer. You will require an additional software support, the Direct Numerical Control (DNC), for the file transfer.


Overall, CNC machining is important for quality running of industrial machines. Their operations require you to understand the relevant software programs. The programs help you to generate the right code needed to operate the CNC machine.


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