Computer numerical control machining, most often referred to simply as CNC machining, is the result of a long evolutionary process in manufacturing technology. Replacing most human interaction with automated, software-driven equipment, CNC techniques facilitate the operation of complex tools and machinery on the factory floor.
CNC systems come in an array of different types for various manufacturing applications. Today’s machine tools incorporate CNC machining for enhanced automation, higher production consistency, and reliable accuracy. Even older, hand-operated machining equipment can be upgraded with CNC controls.
How Does CNC Programming Work?
Programmers use various computer-aided manufacturing applications to develop “G-code,” a programming language that dictates how an automated machine tool will operate on a workpiece. From tooling geometry to speeds and feeds settings, G-code commands machine equipment in the same way a conductor leads an orchestra.
To machine a simple part, G-code is developed and then sent to the CNC machine for action. Tools are employed — for drilling, boring, routing, milling, turning, grinding, and so on — on various materials through a series of commands sent by the CNC controller. Gone are the days of humans working the levers, buttons, and wheels; CNC computer components act as the live operator.