CNC machines come in a wide variety of types, from small mills and lathes used by small machine shops and vocational schools, to large, high performance machinery with multiple units working in three, four and five axes.

CNC laser cutting machine

CNC Milling Machine

One of the most popular CNC machinery, milling are used primarily for milling, drilling and cutting operations.

They derive and translate specific programs of letters and numbers, called G-codes, to move the spindle in different ways. Once the workpiece is in the milling machine, the computer takes over.

Common types of CNC milling machines include manual, normal, general and universal models. These include functions such as tapping, drilling, turning and end milling, and are capable of machining hard metals. Most of these machines have three axes of motion, but more advanced models can accommodate more axes.

CNC Plasma Cutters

CNC plasma cutters use a discharge arc (like a plasma torch) to ionise the air and melt the torch’s cutting material, enabling high-precision cutting.

As plasma cutting machines operate on the principle of electrical discharge, they can only be used to cut conductive materials. Industries such as car manufacturing, car repair, shipbuilding, fabrication, and salvage and scrapping all use CNC plasma cutting machines.

CNC Lathe Machines

Unlike CNC milling machines, which can machine products of any shape, CNC turning machines are most suitable for machining cylindrical, conical or flat products.

They work by rotating the workpiece material about a central axis and using a cutting tool mounted on the workpiece to remove the material and machine it into the desired product.

Processes such as cutting, grinding, facing, drilling, turning and knurling are ideal applications for CNC lathes.

CNC Laser Cutting Machines

Like CNC plasma cutters, CNC laser cutters can cut a wide range of materials including plastic, paper, fabric, metal and hardwood.

Unlike plasma cutters, laser cutters use a highly focused beam of intense light (called a laser) to cut. This has a smaller contact point and spread, resulting in greater precision and better surface finish.

Aerospace parts, automotive frames, medical equipment and engraved materials are all produced on CNC laser cutting machines.

CNC Drilling Machine

Another common CNC machining is the CNC drilling machine. As the name implies, they are for drilling holes in any material for bolting, secondary assembly and aesthetic purposes.

These machines use a rotating drill to produce cylindrical holes in workpieces and include spot drills, peck drills, threading machines and clamped reamers.

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