Types of CNC Machines

There are several types of CNC machines. Some are used in manufacturing facilities to manufacture parts while others may be used in retail locations to create custom products on demand (such as dog and cat tags). Not only are CNC machines used in a retail setting they are also used in various types of industry including aerospace, dental, marine, medical and security. Without these industrial machines, we are not able to create devices and products for various industry. Here are four of the most common types of CNC machines described below.

CNC Milling Machines

CNC Milling MachinesCNC milling machines feature a spindle that rotates. The material moves along this rotating spindle where it is then cut, or “milled,” according to the precise instructions in the program. CNC milling machines are generally used to cut two-dimensional objects, drill holes, and grind items. For example, if you needed to cut a flat piece of sheet metal into a pattern and then drill holes into it at specific points, a CNC milling machine would be capable of doing so. Some more advanced mills are capable of cutting three dimensions.

CNC Routers

CNC RoutersCNC routers are similar to CNC milling machines. However, they are typically used to cut wood products. For example, if you wanted to create a raised panel cabinet door, a CNC router would be the perfect choice. In this example, you’d place the door into position, load the CAD file into the CNC router, and press “start.” The router would then move the drill into position, cutting the channel into the cabinet door and grinding down the outer edges according to precise instructions. Because the CNC router follows the same instructions with each cabinet door, you can create all of the doors in the series to the exact specifications with no variations in the design.

CNC Machine Lathes

CNC Machine LatheLathes are used to cut a cylinder into shape. For example, lathes are commonly used to shape table legs, posts, screws, candlesticks, and other tubular-like parts. They work by spinning a cylinder of material, such as a wooden dowel under a cutting tool. With a CNC machine lathe, these movements are precisely controlled by a computer. The material is then cut as programmed. In general, lathes are used with parts that have symmetrical shapes around an axis.

CNC Plasma Cutters

CNC Plasma CutterPlasma cutters are similar to CNC routers in terms of size and set up but they don't require as much power to set up because they are dragged by a spinning tool and fly above the table with a plasma torch. The machines are made to cut two dimensional shapes into sheet metal.

In conclusion, here are the four most common types of CNC machines used to manufacture devices and products for various industry. CNC machining has helped improve our lifestyle by enabling us to create products to protect us. For example, the surveillance cameras are manufactured using CNC machines to create intricate details on the camera. Without these machines, we may not be able to continue to add new security features to help protect the community and the public.

Adrian Thomas has worked with many CNC machine shops for several years. He has collected sources from to write this article. Feel free to connect with him via Google+.

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