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Technical vocational training student participating in hands-on learning in Aurora, CO

What is CNC Manufacturing?

In today’s fast-paced world of manufacturing, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines have made a huge impact. These advanced machines have changed how we make things, making the process more precise and efficient than ever before. From tiny medical instruments to huge parts for airplanes, CNC manufacturing plays a key role in making complex and high-quality items. So what is a CNC machine?

Student learning of CNC machine, working in a technical vocational training in Aurora, CO

Introduction to CNC Machines

CNC manufacturing combines the power of computer technology with the physical process of making things. It uses software to control CNC machines that make products through subtractive manufacturing. Subtractive manufacturing is a manufacturing process that involves removing material from a stock piece, also known as a workpiece or a blank. This method uses special software that takes a product’s design and turns it into instructions for the machine. These instructions are very detailed, controlling things like where the machine moves, how fast it works, and how it coordinates its actions. This ensures that every part of the product is made precisely according to the design specifications. CNC manufacturing can be used with a wide variety of materials such as wood, metals, glass, plastics, and composites.

The first step in the process is to design a CAD (computer-aided design) 2-D or 3-D model of the part to be manufactured. The CAD model file is then converted to be used with a CNC program. A workpiece is then loaded and affixed to the CNC machine and the proper tool is equipped. Once the machine is properly prepped, the CNC program is executed and instructs the CNC machine to remove material from he workpiece to match the desired design.

In What Industries is CNC Manufacturing Used?

Many different industries have started using CNC manufacturing because it’s so accurate and flexible. The aerospace industry uses it to make parts that need to be just right in terms of weight and strength. The car industry also uses it a lot for making precise engine parts and gear systems. The medical world relies on CNC too, especially for making special implants and parts for prostheses that need to fit patients perfectly. CNC machining is also used in the electronics, defense, telecommunication and everyday consumer goods industries due to its incredible precision. You can find CNC machining services used in nearly everywhere around the globe.

CNC Machining Vs. Traditional Machining

CNC machining is quite different from the old way of making things. Traditional machining depends on people to run the machines, which can lead to mistakes and differences from one part to the next. CNC machining uses computer programs to control everything, which means it’s much more accurate and consistent. Another big benefit of CNC is that machines can keep working without getting tired, unlike people. This means they can make components faster and can create more intricate designs.

Different Types of CNC Machining Operations

There are different types of CNC machines which allow several important types of operations, each suited for making different kinds of designs:

Drilling: This is when the machine makes cylindrical holes in the material. It uses a drill bit to make holes of different sizes precisely where they need to be.

Milling: One of the most flexible CNC operations, milling uses a fast-spinning multi-point cutting tool to cut away material. The machine can move in many directions, which lets it make all kinds of shapes, slots, and holes. It’s great for making complex parts that need to be very precise.

Turning: With turning, the workpiece rotates while a single fixed tool removes material. This process is usually done on a CNC lathe machine which moves the tool along the surface of the workpiece in a linear motion. This process is usually used for the manufacturing of cylindrical parts with structures such as threads and tapers.

CNC manufacturing has a big impact on how we make things today. It’s great at making complex and accurate parts quickly and efficiently, which has become essential in modern manufacturing. CNC manufacturing technology is constantly improving, which is very exciting. As it keeps getting better, we’ll be able to make even more amazing and useful things in the future.

Join us at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO, where we offer an array of over 25 certificate programs tailored for both adults and high school students. As a part of the Aurora Public Schools and the Colorado Community College System, we are committed to providing you with exceptional opportunities. Our mission is clear: to empower you with cutting-edge skills, knowledge, and work habits that will propel you to success in the ever-evolving workforce. For more details on our programs, admissions process, financial aid, or any other information, you can explore our website at or contact us online or over the phone at 720-502-8544.