What Does a CNC Machine Do Exactly?

Updated on November 19, 2021
water jet cutter close up

Did you know that the first CNC machine was developed in 1952 by Richard Kegg and MIT? If you are new to the world of CNC machining and are wondering “what does a CNC machine do?” we are here to share what it does and the key things you want to understand about it.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of CNC machining

What Does a CNC Machine Do Exactly?

CNC machines are now used around the entire world in pretty much every type of industry. CNC machines have the ability to create things out of wood, aluminum, metals, and plastics. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. 

CNC machines use a computer-driven machine tool to reproduce a part out of a solid material in a different shape. The instructions are usually made on either CAD (Computer Aided Design) or CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software. 

The software will write the G-code for the controller on the CNC machine to read. The program on the controller will then interpret the design and move the cutting tools to cut the desired shape. Manufacturers use reliable machines from a company like Inventables, to ensure that they are getting the most for their money.

Types of CNC Machines

There are so many different types of CNC machines, it is hard to keep up with them. Cutting can vary between milling, lathes, routers, plasma cutting, etc. 

These are the most basic types of CNC machines:


With a CNC mill, the CNC moves ball screws with high accuracy to the coordinates that are programmed. This is much easier than manual milling machines that use handwheels and lead screws to place a cutting tool onto a workpiece. 


This CNC turns the workpiece and moves the cutting tool to the workpiece. The material rotates on a spindle and is pressed against a carving tool or against a grinding tool to make the shape that is desired. 


This type of CNC is used for cutting large dimensions in plastics, sheets, wood, and metals. A standard router will operate on a 3-axis coordinate in order to cut in three dimensions. 

Plasma Cutting

This type of CNC uses a very powerful laser when it is cutting out the desired shape. Most plasma cutters cut shapes out of either a plate or a sheet. 

Feeling Like a CNC Machine Pro?

Now that you know the answer to the question “what does a CNC machine do?” plus more keys points about CNC machining, you can see how most manufacturers nowadays are able to automate pretty much any process thanks to this technology. There are plenty of companies that depend on CNC machines to save them time and money, and more importantly, make their products accurately.

Did our blog post help you out today? Please browse around the rest of our section for some more helpful reads. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.