The Most Common Types of CNC Machines

What Are The Most Common Types of CNC Machines?

August 24, 2021

The development of different types of CNC machines follows an age-old pattern of human ingenuity. Since the dawn of time, human beings have sought out easier ways to do everyday things. We figured out how to ride a horse; then, we attached a cart to it. We created the computer; then we found a way to fit one in our pockets. We created the assembly line; then we developed precision CNC machines.

Different types of CNC machines all share a similar definition: Automated machinery connected to a computer controller that shapes materials. Commonly used in sheet metal fabrication and other industrial applications, different CNC machines have come to make up the bulk of manufacturing hardware used in shops and factories today.

But what types of CNC machines are there? We'll help you understand the most common types of CNC machines available today along with some of their applications.

What Does CNC Mean?

CNC stands for computer numerical control and is a broad term to describe automated manufacturing processes. A CNC machine is any machine that is programmable and controlled by a numerical computer that directs the movement of the mill, lathe or cutting head. CNC machines are highly precise manufacturing tools capable of making tens of thousands of accurate cuts every hour. For instance, the volume output of a laser cutting machine is equal to 6-10 manual handheld torches (and far more precise).

Common CNC Machines

Below you will find a list of the most common types of CNC machines. Each one offers unique advantages for a given application and can provide your team with exceptional quality control, efficiency and speed.

Milling Machines

The very first CNC machines to be patented, milling machines remain among the most common types of CNC machines to this day. This equipment uses a series of multi-point cutting tools such as drills, cutters and broaching bits that rotate along multiple axes to cut and shape materials.

Lathe Machines

The concept of the lathe machine is thousands of years old. A craftsman places the material they're working with on a rotating workpiece, allowing them to work evenly across its surfaces. Applied to CNC machines, it allows manufacturers to quickly shape parts, especially oblong or conical parts like pistons.

Plasma Cutting Machines

Just like the horse and the CNC machine, after humans found a way to cut metal, they found a way to cut metal faster. Instead of getting a sharper tool, they send electricity and a plethora of gasses—nitrogen, oxygen, helium and neon, for example—through a torch, heating them to tens of thousands of degrees and cutting through steel and non-ferrous metals up to an inch thick.

The one caveat is that plasma cutting machines are only used for cutting, not engraving or shaping.

Laser Machines and Engraving

Unlike plasma cutting, laser machines use a highly magnified beam of light to cut through metal with incredible precision. The beam isn't as powerful as plasma, only able to cut through about 3/4 of an inch of metal. However, laser machines can also be used for engraving.

Contact Industrial Automation Co. for All Types of CNC Machine Replacement Parts

Humans are always striving to make life a little easier. At Industrial Automation Co., our goal is to make acquiring CNC machine replacement parts easier. We carry parts for different types of CNC machines from manufacturers like Mitsubishi, Fanuc and Okuma. Contact us today for prices on human-machine interfaces, motors, AC inverters and more.