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CNC Machining

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CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining Definition

The term machining generally refers to the use of a cutting tool used as part of a controlled material removal process to render a workpiece to a desired final size and shape.

Traditionally this was done by a skilled technician. If you think of an old-school carpenter with a lathe and a chisel set, you’re not far wrong. 

This manual form of machining is still used today and is normally referred to as conventional machining. The technician doesn’t need to wield the tools anymore and can direct and control machining tools via a computer interface. 

What makes a machining process conventional is that a human determines the location and intensity of tool contact.

By comparison, computer numerical controlled machining uses software to render a 3D design into instructions for a set of computer-controlled machining tools. The software and computer-controlled tools then conduct the machining process without the need for significant oversight.

Essentially, in CNC machining, the software determines the location and intensity of tool contact.

Read our Ultimate Guide to CNC Machining here.

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