Exploring the 12 Different Types of CNC Machines A Beginner’s Introduction

What is CNC Machining?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that involves manufacturing a specific product by removing material from the workpiece. The whole process is done through special CNC machines. Computerized software instructions control the working of these machines. , computer software provides instructions to CNC machines. In return, these machines remove material from the workpiece by moving tools or the workpiece according to provided instructions.

CNC machining is becoming popular, especially on the industrial scale. It helps produce more precise, accurate, and high-functioning parts because computerized programs control them. Moreover, this efficient process helps greatly in saving time, so a large number of high-quality, durable, accurate parts can be manufactured in less time than traditional manufacturing processes.



Steps of Manufacturing Part through CNC Machine:

Step 1: In this 1st step, the 2D or 3D model of the final product having special features such as tolerances, construction lines, threads indications, and components’ dimensions, etc., is manufactured using special CAM or CAD/software.

Step 2: In this next step, your 2D or 3D CAD design is exported to CNC-compatible file formats such as STL and STEP.

Step 3: This step includes setting up the machine by placing the workpiece on the cutting table and attaching the tools with a spindle. After setting up, the machining operation begins, and the material is removed to get a desirable product.



Different Types of CNC Machines

As discussed earlier, CNC machining requires special machines collectively termed CNC machines. Different types of machines are specified for particular functions and the production of components with unique features. Let us discuss the detailed explanation of different types of CNC machines.


1- CNC Milling Machines:

The CNC milling machine, commonly having a 3 to 6-axis configuration, specializes in cutting and drilling. It possesses specialized built-in rotary and cylindrical cutting tools. These tools show movement in different axes and remove material from the workpiece by cutting and drilling the raw material. As a result, a product form exhibits the desired shape and features, such as pockets, grooves, notches, etc.


The following are the main applications of CNC milling machines.


    • CNC milling machines produce medical components that demand high accuracy and precision, such as biopsy tubes, forceps, etc.
    • The automotive industry uses these parts to produce parts exhibiting unique features with high performance, such as exhaust components, interior panels, etc.
    • The milling machine is applicable in the aerospace industry for manufacturing lightweight, accurate, and temperature-resistant parts such as valve components.


CNC milling machines offer the following advantages.


    • These machines suit different materials such as metals, composites, plastic, etc.
    • We can efficiently manufacture parts with greater accuracy and durability.
    • CNC milling is a fast production procedure, thus considered time-saving.


CNC milling machines offer the following disadvantages.


    • It demands a greater cost for its installation.
    • Demand for experienced operators; otherwise, it leads to malfunctioned products.
    • Machines are expensive.
    • Needs high maintenance for accurate working.



2- CNC Routers:

These machines are specialized to cut and give a specific shape to a workpiece using rotating cutters. Its main components include a power supply, mechanical base, stepper motors, spindle controller, and drivers. The CNC lathe machines’ working principle is similar to the CNC milling.

Generally, during the process, the tool head of the machines shows movement along X and Y-axis according to instructions given by computer software to remove material from a workpiece. The main purpose of the machine is usually the 2D cutting and shaping of the material.

Applications of CNC Routers:

The following are the main applications of CNC routers.


    • It is used for the creation of precise physical 3D prototypes.
    • We can cut composite material through CNC router machines.
    • Machines are expensive.
    • It can help in designing and manufacturing different furniture products.
    • We can use it for moulding and forming purposes.
    • We can engrave items through this machine with greater accuracy.

Advantages of CNC Router Machines:

CNC router machines possess the following advantages.


    • Ensures accuracy and versatility of manufactured parts
    • Requires easy maintenance
    • Safe and easy to use
    • It can be used for cutting, shaping, etc.
    • Produce less amount of waste

Disadvantages of CNC Router Machines:

CNC router machines have the following disadvantages.


    • Offers limited accuracy than other machines.
    • The initial cost is high.
    • Need special training and operators for successful operation.
    • Have limited speed, so it cannot work properly at high speed.
    • It may produce residual dust.


3- CNC Lathes and Turning Machines:

CNC lathe machines remove the material from a rotating bar workpiece on a spindle by fixed cutting tools with varying diameters to give it a desired shape. The workpiece moves according to the instructions given by the computer software.

Therefore, the cutting is done with high accuracy with no chances of errors. It can work on different types of parts having different geometries by positioning its X, Y, and Z axis. We can machine a wide range of shapes and structures through its machines.


We can use these machines for the following purposes.


    • For the production of screw threads
    • To manufacture highly complex 3-dimensional components
    • For the production of intricate components.
    • To manufacture the parts with excellent finishing.
    • To produce products such as chair legs, camshafts, gun barrels, etc.



Its advantages are as follows:


    • Applicable for a wide range of materials.
    • Allows manufacturing of multiple components exhibiting the same dimension.
    • Ensure great accuracy.
    • Low labour and set up cost.
    • Great for enhancing productivity.



Its disadvantages are:


    • Regular maintenance
    • Expensive rates
    • High initial cost



4- CNC Laser Cutting Machine:

Laser-cutting machines use lasers for cutting and removing material from workpieces. The use of lasers ensures high precision and accuracy of the manufactured part. Commonly three types of lasers used for this purpose are as follows.

1- yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG).

2- neodymium (Nd)

3- CO2


Its applications are mentioned below:


    • Use for the formation of tiny holes.
    • Usage for marking and engraving workpieces.
    • Utilization for cutting hard materials.



Its main advantages are as follows:


    • Offers greater precision and accuracy.
    • Eliminate the possibility of material contamination.
    • Allows the cutting of material with high speed.
    • Do cutting on a wide range of materials.




    • Production of harsh fumes and gasses during the machining operation.
    • High upfront cost.
    • It may not be suitable for material with maximum thickness.



5- CNC Plasma Cutting Machines

Plasma cutting machines are used for cutting and shaping a particular workpiece through a plasma torch or stream of hot plasma. The torch is high-powered that cuts the material into the desired shape. We can use it for various materials, even metals, etc.


Followings are its main applications.


    • Applicable for fabrication purposes.
    • Used for cutting hard materials.
    • Ideally used in construction sites
    • Utilization in shipyard manufacturing




    • They are portable and user-friendly.
    • Ensure greater precision and accuracy.
    • Low cost of production and operation.
    • Use less-flammable gases.




    • It may produce excess fumes.
    • Not suitable for material with greater thickness
    • It can produce noise and may produce bright flashes during the machining operation.


6- CNC Electrical Discharge Machines:

Another name for these machines is spark CNC machines. These machines give a definite shape to the material through electric sparks. The machine works by placing the workpiece above and below the electrode. The electric spark degrades the material and reshapes it into a desired shape. The production and the quantity of the electric spark produced by the electrode are controlled by computer programs.



    • Ideal for the disintegration of parts,
    • Used for manufacturing aerospace and medical components.
    • Best for manufacturing dies and moulds.




    • Produce parts with a burr-free surface finish.
    • Minimum stress is applied to the workpiece.
    • Ideal for cutting hard work pieces.
    • Ensures greater accuracy.




    • High cost of production.
    • May remove material at low rates.



7- CNC Water Jet Cutters:

CNC water jet cutters machine can cut and reshapes different materials using a water jet with high pressure. It can be utilized for cutting all types of soft and hard materials. When cutting soft material, we can use water without mixing it with other substances, such as plastic. But, when cutting a hard workpiece, we can use water mixed with other substances, such as aluminium oxide.



    • Used for cutting soft and hard materials.
    • It can be used for inlay insertion.
    • Use for cutting ceramics, stones, etc.



Its advantages are as under.


    • Use for cutting heterogeneous workpieces.
    • Can efficiently do cutting of complex and thick material.
    • Ensure high-precision.
    • Do not produces any odour during the machining operation.
    • Do not produce dust.




    • Make sure to achieve dimensional accuracy in cutting and shaping hard material.
    • Take more time for cutting.


8- CNC Grinding Machines

CNC grinding machine removes the material from the workpiece through a rotating grinding wheel to shape it into a desired product. Computer programs control the movement of grinding wheels. Commonly this machine is used for cutting hard materials such as metals. It is ideal for achieving the final parts with a cylindrical shape having exceptional finishing and accuracy.


Its applications are below:


    • Used for grinding different objects.
    • For precise finishing of different types of holes.
    • To manufacture ceramic shafts or shouldered pins etc.
    • Used for abrasive milling.



Here are its main advantages:


    • Require less investment.
    • Helps in achieving excellent surface finishing
    • Easy operating and working principle.
    • Manufacturer parts with the best dimensional accuracy.



Here are its main disadvantages:


    • Machines can produce noise.
    • It may create dust particles.
    • Neat regular cleaning and high maintenance.
    • Available at high rates.



9- CNC Drilling Machines

CNC drilling machines are used for drilling and show working along different axes. During machining, the rotating cutting tool of this machine works on the fixed material. The cutting tool rotates, making round holes, slots, and other desired size features in the workpiece more accurately.


It is used food the following purposes


    • Ideal for drilling holes in the materials.
    • Perfect for chamfering.
    • It can be ideally used for reaming.
    • Used in different industries such as shipbuilding, automobile, etc., for manufacturing products.




    • Enhanced efficiency and accuracy of manufactured parts.
    • Machines are budget-friendly.
    • Ensure high safety because of being environmentally friendly.
    • Easy to operate and helps in achieving versatility.




    • Need high operating training.
    • It may create noise during the machining process.
    • Need high initial cost.


10- CNC Bending Machines:

CNC bending machines are used for bending different types of materials. The process is automated, and the computer instructions control the machinery or bending tools while bending a specific workpiece. As a result, the exact amount of bends is formed in the final parts with accurate dimensions.


Its main applications are as follows.


    • Used for bending complex parts.
    • Utilization for the creation of complex parts’ designs.
    • Widely used on an industrial scale for manufacturing precise parts.



Its main advantages are discussed below.


    • Less noisy
    • Produce bend without damaging parts.
    • Fast and highly efficient.



Its main disadvantages are discussed below.


    • They cause defects in parts having varying thicknesses.



11- CNC Turning and Milling Compound Machines:

A CNC turning and milling compound machine is a type of CNC machine having to combines the capabilities of both CNC turning and milling machines. It can undergo both turning and milling processes simultaneously, resulting in the production of accurate complex-shaped components.

It possesses a high-speed spindle and multiple axes that aid in rapidly removing material from a workpiece to give it a desired shape. In addition, the machine controls all the other functions, including tool changing during the machining operation. It results in the rapid production of intricate parts with greater complexity.


It offers the following applications.


    • Used for producing parts with a certain complexity that other machines cannot achieve.
    • Largely used on an industrial scale for producing highly precise industrial components.



It offers the following advantages.


    • Complex parts can be created easily.
    • Manufactured parts show high precision, accuracy, tolerance, and other desired dimensions.
    • Fast production of parts with specific features.




    • Machines are expensive, so one needs a lot of money to invest.
    • It may require highly skilled and experienced operators.
    • It may require maintenance.


12- 5-Axis Machines:

A 5-axis CNC machine cuts and removes the material from a workpiece by moving in five axes or directions without repositioning the workpiece. 5-axis machines include X, Y, Z, A, and B axis. It means the material is reshaped into a desired part in a single operation using all 5 axes. They can do cutting from all sides of the workpiece simultaneously.



    • Ideally used for machining the complex 3D shapes
    • Used in different industries for manufacturing highly complex products.



Its main advantages are mentioned below.


    • Reduces cycle time and improves the efficiency of the machining process.
    • Manufacture products in a single operation, thus time-saving.
    • Produce high-quality, accurate shapes.
    • Enhanced productivity.




    • Machines itself is expensive.
    • Use advanced machining operations.
    • Required experienced operators.
    • Difficult to operate.



CNC machines are recognized globally because of the production of highly efficient, accurate, precise, high-quality industrial components. The components produced by these machines aid in manufacturing high-performance parts and ensure their long-term durability. But for this purpose, investing in superb-quality CNC machines is important.

Worhy Hardware is a renowned manufacturing company providing parts made with high-quality, precision CNC machines. We can customize the parts according to our client’s specifications and other requirements. We welcome our customers to invest in our products for an exceptionally successful business or project.

Part size also affects tolerance. For instance, thermal damage to the material is more destructive for smaller parts than larger ones as they heat up faster. Smaller parts also offer smaller surfaces to work on, which may be inappropriate for standard-sized tools, especially if the design is complex.