CNC Machines – A Quick Introduction

History of CNC Machines

CNC machines have a long and storied history, dating back to the early 1950s when they were first introduced commercially. These early machines were based on existing technology – namely, punch cards and tape readers.

While these were certainly groundbreaking at the time, they pale in comparison to the CNC machines of today. One of the key figures in the development of CNC machines was John T. Parsons.

John T. Parsons is often referred to as the “father of numerical control” due to his work in developing these early machines. Parsons’ work laid the foundation for modern CNC technology, and his legacy continues to this day.

What is CNC?

CNC Machines – CNC stands for computer numerical control. It’s a term used whenever a computer handles machining operations and includes everything from 3D printers, CNC Router, CNC Plasma , and CNC Laser Machines to robotic arms.

CNC began decades ago with the automation of industrial machinery and has since become much more accessible to a wider public audience. This has allowed people to make their own products in smaller workshops at a fraction of the cost.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that CNC machines really began to take off, thanks to a number of key developments. First and foremost among these was the introduction of computer numerical control, or NC. This technology allowed for much more precise control of the machine, as well as greater flexibility in terms of the types of operations that could be performed.

In the 1970s, advances in microprocessor technology led to the development of the first true CNC machines. These early machines were large and expensive, but they paved the way for the compact and affordable CNC machines.

CNC machines have come a long way in the last few decades, and they show no signs of slowing down. Thanks to ever-more powerful and affordable computer technology, CNC machines are now more precise and versatile than ever before.

CNC machines are now an essential part of many manufacturing processes, and have evolved significantly since those early days. Today, there are many different types of CNC machines available on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at the history of CNC machines and how they’ve developed over the years.


How does it work?

CNC machines are controlled by computer programs that tell the machine what movements to make. The programs are usually created using CAD (computer-aided design) software, which allows for precise control over the shape and size of the final product. Once the program is created, it is downloaded to the CNC machine, which reads the instructions and moves accordingly.

A CNC machine is made up of many different complex components. Fortunately, the basic process it follows is simple. CNC Machines have a dedicated computer and a CNC controller which live in their control own box next to the machine. The computer sends codes to the CNC motion controller which translates them into electronic signals. These signals are passed onto motors which move a spindle over the bed of the router. The router moves along separate axes – X-axis (left and right), Y-axis (forward and backward), and Z-axis (up and down). Many CNC Machines also have an A-axis for rotary cutting. As the spindle moves along the bed it engraves and cuts material along these axes.

CAM software is used to create NC programs, which are then fed to a CNC machine. The software can be used to create toolpaths for milling, drilling, lathe operations, and other types of machining. CAM software is also often used for simulating the manufacturing process to ensure that the NC programs will produce the desired results.

There are many different CAM software packages available on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the more popular CAM software packages include Mastercam, SolidCAM, and Vectric.

The Different Types of CNC Machines

  • CNC Milling Machines
  • CNC Router Machines
  • CNC Plasma Machines
  • CNC Laser Machines
  • CNC Lathe Machines


There are many different types of CNC machines on the market today. Each CNC machine has its own unique capabilities and drawbacks that need to be considered before deciding which one is right for your needs.

CNC Milling Machines

What is a CNC Milling Machine?

A CNC milling machine is a computer numerically controlled machine that uses milling cutters to shape a workpiece. It is a type of machining that utilizes cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece, and it can be done on a movable tabletop or on a machine with movable cutters.

The workpiece is moved in a linear or circular pattern while the cutter removes material until the desired shape is achieved. The machine can cut in three dimensions, which are referred to as the X, Y, and Z axes. Each axis is controlled by a servo or stepper motor that is triggered by the CNC Control.

There are two main types of CNC milling machines: vertical and horizontal. The vertical milling machine ( VMC’s) has a spindle that is perpendicular to the table, and the horizontal milling machine ( HMC’s) has a spindle that is parallel to the table. Both types of machines can be fitted with a variety of attachments and accessories to perform different tasks.

Milling machines are designed to create shapes and holes in materials like aluminum, metal, and plastic. They can be used for a wide variety of tasks, including drilling, boring, cutting gears, and producing slots.

There are several advantages to using a CNC milling machine. First, they are very precise. They can also produce complex shapes and designs that would be difficult to create with manual milling machines. In addition, CNC milling machines can be used to create large quantities of the same part, which is ideal for mass production.

CNC Router Machines

What is a CNC Router Machine?

A CNC router machine is a computer-controlled cutting machine used for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, composites, aluminum, plastics, and foams.

A CNC router uses a rotating cutting bit to cut materials following a specific set of computer instructions. This enables it to create very precise and intricate cuts and designs.

CNC router machines can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as sign making, woodworking, cabinet making, and even sculpting.

One of the key benefits of using a CNC router machine is that it enables you to create very intricate and detailed designs that would be difficult or impossible to create by hand.

Another benefit is that CNC routers are much faster than traditional methods of cutting and carving, so they can save you a lot of time.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a CNC router machine, it’s important to consider what you’ll be using it for and what features you need. Some things to keep in mind include:

CNC routers are available in a wide range of sizes and capabilities. Some are small enough to fit on a desktop, while others are large industrial machines.

The type of projects that can be done with a CNC router are limited only by the imagination. They are commonly used for woodworking, sign making, sculpting, and even metalworking.

No matter what your project involves, there’s a good chance that a CNC router machine can help you get it done faster and easier.

What can it cut?
CNC Machines are built to cut soft metals like aluminum, hardwoods, MDF, plastics, and high-density foam. If you add a drag knife you can also cut vinyl, paper, and leather. Each material is best cut using a tool specific to that material.

What software do I need?
Our CNC Machines come standard with Mach 4 Hobby (for controlling the router) already installed and calibrated. You also need a vector graphics program CAD (computer-aided design) and a CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) program like any of the Vectric Software packages for the CAD and CAM process.

Convert your design
Once you have a vector drawing, you need to encode the drawing into a language that the CNC machine can understand. This language is called G-code and is made up of simple one-line commands. Don’t worry, you don’t need to encode these commands yourself. Instead, you’ll use a CAM program to encode your drawing for you. We highly recommend you invest in a good CAM program like Vectric so you get the best results from your CNC Router Machine.

Copy your G-code
Once it’s on the computer, open it in the machine’s control program such as Mach 4. The control program sends the G-code file to the router which directs it to cut and engrave your drawing.

Set up your material
Place the material you are going to cut on the CNC machines’ bed. It’s very important to make sure that the material is fastened down securely. Now that you have your drawing ready to go and the material secure on the bed, you need to tell the control program where to start cutting and how far the tool bit is from the top of the material (called offsets). Once this is done, you’re ready to go!

CNC Plasma Machines

What is a CNC Plasma Machine?

A CNC Plasma Machine is a specific type of CNC Machine designed to be used to cut metal. It uses a plasma torch to cut the metal, which is then often used in fabrication and manufacturing.

CNC Plasma Machines are often used to create metal signs, as well as other metal products. They can also be used to cut metal for welding purposes.

The plasma torch on a CNC Plasma Machine is controlled via computer, which allows for very precise cuts. This makes them ideal for cutting complex shapes and patterns out of metal.

CNC Laser Machines

What is a CNC Laser Machine

A CNC Laser Machine is a specific type of CNC Router that uses a laser to cut materials. The laser is focused on the material and then the material is cut by the heat of the laser. This type of machine is used to cut a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal.

CNC Laser Machines are faster and more precise than traditional methods of cutting, such as saws and hand-held lasers. They can also cut more complex shapes than other types of CNC machines.

If you need to cut material quickly and precisely, a CNC Laser Machine is the best option.

CNC Lathe Machines

What is a CNC Lathe Machine?

A CNC Lathe Machine is a machine that uses Computer Numerical Control to create objects with curves and shapes. It is used to create parts for machines, automobiles, and other objects. The process of using a CNC Lathe Machine is similar to that of using a regular lathe, but the machine is controlled by a computer. This allows for more precise cuts and shapes to be created.

CNC Lathes can be used to create objects out of various materials, including metals, plastics, and wood. The material is placed on a spindle, which spins at high speeds. The cutting tool is then used to shape the material. The computer controls the movements of the cutting tool, which allows for very precise cuts and shapes to be created.

CNC Lathe Machines are used in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical. They are also used in hobbyist settings. Many people use CNC Lathe Machines to create parts for model airplanes, cars, and other objects.

If you are interested in using a CNC Lathe Machine, there are many different types and models to choose from. You will need to decide what size and type of machine you need, as well as what features you want. You can find these machines at many different retailers, both online and offline. Prices vary depending on the size and features of the machine.


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