Types of CNC Machining You’ll See in Machine Shops

Most industries rely on CNC precision machining to develop high-quality custom parts that must meet detailed requirements. With precision CNC machining, you can produce parts that meet specifications. But before you go with this process, you need to have a clear understanding of the concept so that you can take maximum advantage. Overall, you can choose the suitable CNC machine according to your requirement. 

This article discusses precision CNC machining & its types. 

What is Precision CNC Machining? 

Basically, CNC precision machining means shaping the raw material. Computer-aided Design (CAD) and Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM) blueprints aid in determining the best cutting process. These programmes are essential during the design phase because they frequently include detailed 3D outlines that ensure successful part creation. Machinists use this process in a variety of manufacturing processes and materials. 

Every industry requires precision CNC machining parts ranging from Mining, Automotive, robotics, furniture, medical etc.

Types of Precision CNC Machining

Check the types of CNC machines below:

  1. Lathe CNC machine
  2. Milling CNC machine
  3. Drilling CNC machine
  4. Grinding CNC machine
  5. Laser cutting CNC machine
  6. Plasma cutting CNC machine
  7. Router CNC machine
  8. 5-axis CNC machine
  9. CNC waterjet cutting machine
  10. CNC electrical discharge machines (EDM)

Lathe CNC Machine 

Lathe machines can turn material during machining operations. They work by spinning at high speed while a knife is applied to the surface of the desired product. Lathes are best for products with cylindrical or flat shapes. Nowadays, lathes are ideal due to their fast and accurate function. So, The lathe CNC machine’s setup is easy. 

Milling CNC Machine 

CNC mills are popular machines with built-in tools used for drilling and cutting. The materials are inside a milling CNC machine, after which the computer will lead the tools to drill them. 

Most of the CNC milling machines are available in 3 to 6-axis configurations. The machine gets used for producing gears like spur gear and is used to drill the workpiece bore and make slots by inserting a part program into the system. A semi-skilled worker can use it easily. And for mass production like a turret. 

Drilling CNC Machine 

The CNC drilling machine is ideal for mass production. It uses rotating drill bits to produce cylindrical holes in materials. This type of CNC machine can perform reaming, counterboring and tapping holes. There are various types of CNC drilling machines as: 

  • Upright drill press
  • Radial arm drill press
  • Gang drilling machine
  • Micro drill press
  • Turret-type drilling machine 

Grinding CNC Machine 

It is a precision performance tool that cuts metal away from metal using a rotating wheel. CNC grinding machines are used for camshafts, ball bearings, transmission shafts, and other working pieces that require a precise and correct finish.

Many of the pieces produced by a CNC grinding machine are cylindrical. A grinding machine produces other types of workpieces. 

Laser Cutting CNC Machine 

CNC laser cutters can cut through tough materials. However, unlike plasma cutters, CNC laser cutting machines use a strong and highly focused laser to perform the task (ionized gas).

CNC laser cutting machines typically provide a higher level of accuracy and a better surface finish when compared to CNC plasma cutters because lasers have a smaller point of contact and spread when compared to torches.

Plasma Cutting CNC Machine 

Plasma-cutting CNC machines, like milling CNC machines, are also used to cut materials. They differ from milling machines in that they perform this operation with a plasma torch.

A plasma cutting machine is a method of cutting electrically conductive materials with an accelerated stream of hot plasma. These CNC machines have high-powered torch that can cut through hard materials like metal.

Router CNC Machine 

The CNC router machine functions like other CNC machines. The main distinction is this carpenter work is done by hand, including interior, door carving, and exterior decoration, wood panels, signboards, wood frames, moulding, musical instruments, furniture, and other items.

According to the sketch, you can design it in the system and then execute it on a CNC router machine. It results in a smoother surface finish. It would be an excellent machine in terms of door design and other aspects.

5-axis CNC Machine 

5-axis machines use a tool that moves in five directions: X, Y, and Z, A and B, which the tool rotates around. A 5-axis CNC machine allows operators to approach apart from all sides in a single operation, eliminating the need to reposition the workpiece manually between operations. 

As a result, 5-axis CNC machining saves time and is ideal for producing complex and precise parts in the medical, oil, and aerospace industries. Product teams should be aware of several types of 5-axis machines, including indexed 5-axis CNC machines, continuous 5-axis CNC machines, and mill-turning CNC centres.

CNC Waterjet Cutting Machine

CNC Waterjet cutters use high-pressure water jets to cut through materials, as the name implies.

Above all, it gets used when the material to be worked on is temperature sensitive and may melt at high temperatures, such as plastic and aluminum.

Although these machines can cut with water, additional abrasives such as garnet (a mineral) or aluminum oxide are usually added to the water for more efficient cutting.

CNC Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM)

A CNC electric discharge machine (EDM) manipulates materials into the desired shape using highly controlled electrical sparks. It’s also known as spark eroding, die sinking, spark machining, and wire burning.

A component gets placed beneath the electrode wire, and the machine is set to emit an electrical discharge from the wire, resulting in intense heat (up to 21,000 degrees Fahrenheit). 

EDM gets used to create precise micro holes, slots, tapered or angled features, and a variety of more complex features in a component or workpiece. Above all, it gets used for hard metals that would be difficult to machine into the desired shape or feature. 


So, these were the most common types of CNC machining that are in the use. All in all, the choice of machine depends on the type of job, the accuracy required, and the time available to complete the job.

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