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CNC Machining Definition, Processes, Components, & Equipment

CNC (computer numerical control) machining employs computerized controls to create custom parts and designs. It’s a subtractive process in which layers of material are removed from a workpiece made of wood, plastic, metal, foam, etc. The process begins with computer-aided design software. The machine is prepped by an operator, then guided by the software program. Mechanically, CNC machines are commonly used for drilling, milling and turning. CNC is used for a wide range of operations, though some challenges are posed by large parts and heavy components.

Key Takeaways:

  • CNC means computer numerical control and it’s a process done by manufacturers to remove materials from a stock piece.
  • The machining process consists of designing the model, converting the file into a CNC program, preparing the machine and then executing the operation.
  • There are different types of CNC operations such as drilling, milling and turning. Drilling is the process when drill bits drill holes into the workpiece.

“Once the CAD design is completed, the designer exports it to a CNC-compatible file format, such as STEP or IGES.”

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