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In an effort to provide more information about our capabilities, such as CNC Machining or Multi Axis Swiss Turning, we've started this series on the most frequently asked questions we receive from our customers. 

Keep checking back to see the latest answers.

Computer numerical control (CNC) is the automation of machine tools by means of computers executing pre-programmed sequences of machine control commands. This is in contrast to machines that are manually controlled by hand wheels or levers, or mechanically automated by cams alone.

In modern CNC systems, the design of a mechanical part and its manufacturing program is highly automated. The part’s mechanical dimensions are defined using computer-aided design (CAD) software and then translated into manufacturing directives by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The resulting directives are transformed (by “post processor” software) into the specific commands necessary for a particular machine to produce the component and then are loaded into the CNC machine.

CNC machining is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. The process can be used to control a range of complex machinery, from grinders and lathes to mills and routers. With CNC machining, three-dimensional cutting tasks can be accomplished in a single set of prompts.

When a CNC system is activated, the desired cuts are programmed into the software and dictated to corresponding tools and machinery, which carry out the dimensional tasks as specified, much like a robot.

NC stands for Numerical Control whereas CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. In NC Machine the programs are fed into the punch cards. But in the CNC machine, the programs are fed directly into the computer with the help of a small keyboard similar to our traditional keyboard.

DNC (Direct Numerical control/ distributed numerical control) denotes the networking of CNC machines. DNC system uses a large mainframe computer to control a number of NC machines. The program is done externally then sent to individual machines.

CNC machinists work with computer numeric controlled ( CNC ) heavy machinery from setup to operation to produce parts and tools from metal, plastic or other materials. Computer numeric controlled equipment is precision machinery that cuts, grinds, or drills into the material.

There are basically five different types of CNC machines:

  • Plasma Cutting Machine.
  • Laser Cutting Machine.
  • Milling Machine.
  • Router Machine
  • CNC Lathe Machine.

Almost any material can be used in a CNC machine. It really depends on the application. Common materials include metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, and titanium, as well as wood, foam, fiberglass, and plastics such as polypropylene, ABS, POM, PC, Nylon, etc.

The term “5-axis” refers to the number of directions in which the cutting tool can move. On a 5-axis machining center, the cutting tool moves across the X, Y and Z linear axes as well as rotates on the A and B axes to approach the workpiece from any direction.

One reason for using CNC machining for production is efficiency. Since computers are used to control machines, it means that all major operations of production can be automated to increase speed and quality of manufacturing. … Another reason CNC machining is beneficial for manufacturing is its accuracy.

A lathe turns the material you’re machining and the tools are held stationary in the turret. *Lathes are used mainly for round parts. Milling machines hold the material stationary and the tools do the movement. Milling machines are used for any shape part.

John T. Parsons. Born January 7, 1913, Detroit, Mich.; the father of numerical control. Parsons discovered how to calculate airfoil coordinates on an IBM 602A multiplier. He then fed these data points into a Swiss jig borer. To date, this was considered the first true numerical control machine as it manufactured goods – helicopter blade templates, in this case – by feeding punched cards into a system, and the system then read and produced the parts based on preprogrammed information.

The industry has standardized on G-Code as its basic set of CNC machine codes. G-Code is the most popular programming language used for programming CNC machinery.

CNC is a type of motion control system. It basically means that instead of using cams or templates to cut a part, it is controlled by a computer.

A VMC is a type of CNC machine, typically enclosed and most often used for cutting metal.

There are major differences between PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) and CNC(Computer Numerical Control) is in the execution of the program. PLC is sequential but CNC is conditional. CNC is a type of application used to control a multi-axis machine tool for example milling machine or lathe.

M-code (for ‘miscellaneous function’) is an auxiliary command; descriptions vary. Many M-codes call for machine functions like ‘open workstation door,’ which is why some say “M” stands for “machine”, though it was not intended to.

The part program is a sequence of instructions, which describe the work, which has to be done on a part, in the form required by a computer under the control of computer numerical control (CNC) software. It is the task of preparing a program sheet from a drawing sheet. All data is fed into the CNC system using a standardized format. Programming is where all the machining data are compiled and where the data are translated into a language which can be understood by the control system of the machine tool.

The machining data is as follows :

  • Machining sequence classification of process, tool start-up point, cutting depth, tool path, etc.
  • Cutting conditions, spindle speed, feed rate, coolant, etc.
  • Selection of cutting tools.

We hope you enjoyed the first part in a series of CNC machining frequently asked questions, check back for more answers.

Multi-axis computer numerical control (CNC) machining employs advanced machining equipment and tooling that accommodates motion in four or more directions to facilitate the manufacture of precision parts with complex geometries.

Responsive machining in the CNC machining industry refers to the ability of CNC machines to adapt and adjust their operations in real-time based on data and conditions. These machines are equipped with sensors and monitoring systems that gather data on parameters like temperature, vibration, and tool wear during the machining process. This data is continuously analyzed to detect anomalies and deviations.

With this information, CNC machines can make real-time adjustments to parameters such as cutting speeds, feeds, and tool paths. They can also detect errors and take corrective actions automatically, such as adjusting cutting conditions or replacing worn-out tools. Feedback mechanisms provide information on the machined part's dimensions and surface finish, enabling the machine to meet required tolerances by making real-time adjustments.

Responsive machining optimizes the machining process by analyzing historical data, patterns, and utilizing intelligent control systems. It improves productivity, flexibility, and quality by selecting suitable cutting tools, optimizing tool paths, and reducing downtime. The ultimate goal is to enhance performance throughout the machining process, allowing CNC machines to adapt to changing conditions and continuously improve efficiency.

A Swiss turning center, also known as a Swiss-type lathe or Swiss-style lathe, is a precision machining tool that combines the functions of a lathe and a Swiss screw machine. It is designed for high-precision and high-volume production of small, complex parts with tight tolerances. The distinguishing feature of a Swiss turning center is its guide bushing, which provides additional support and stability to the workpiece during the machining process. This setup allows for enhanced precision and control, particularly when working with long, slender components. Swiss turning centers are commonly used in industries such as aerospace, medical, and electronics, where intricate and precise parts are required.

A Swiss-type lathe or Swiss-style lathe, is a precision machining tool that combines the functions of a lathe and a Swiss screw machine. The term "Swiss screw machine" is often used interchangeably with Swiss lathe, Swiss automatic, or sliding headstock lathe. It originated in 19th-century Switzerland, where it was developed to revolutionize the mass production of miniature screws required to support the burgeoning watch industry at the time. This innovative machine played a crucial role in enabling the efficient production of small, intricate components with high precision and repeatability. Today, Swiss turning centers continue to be widely used in various industries, including aerospace, medical, and electronics, where the demand for small, complex parts with tight tolerances remains significant.

Multi-Axis CNC Turning and Multi-Axis CNC Swiss Turning are advanced machining techniques used in the manufacturing industry. Multi-Axis CNC Turning involves CNC machines with multiple axes of movement, offering versatility and simultaneous operations for a wide range of part geometries. On the other hand, Multi-Axis CNC Swiss Turning utilizes sliding headstock lathes with a guide bushing, specifically designed for machining long, slender parts with high precision, tight tolerances, and complex features. The guide bushing provides stability and supports delicate components during machining, making it ideal for applications such as screws, shafts, and medical implants. By understanding the differences between these techniques, manufacturers can select the most suitable method based on their project requirements.