The Forms Of CNC Machines And How They Work

by Michael M.

CNC machines are cutting tools used to remove excess material from a workpiece. They are computer numerically controlled. This means that they are mainly computer-controlled. This element ensures the efficiency of the machines. Using CNC machines is highly beneficial. The machines come in several forms based on the CNC machining service. One of the most common forms is CNC milling. Click (read more) to see all the details you need to know about CNC milling. This post focuses on CNC machine types.

Types of CNC machines

Below are the main types of CNC machines split into two categories;

1. 3-axis CNC machines

These CNC machines feature three axes. The axes move simultaneously along three-dimensional vectors. Each axis moves in a different direction. For instance, the X-axis moves up and down, the Y-axis moves to the right and left, while the Z-axis moves forward and backward. In this category, there are two types of CNC machines. They are:

a. CNC milling machines

Milling is a subtractive production technique used by cutting materials from a large workpiece. In CNC milling, the workpiece remains stationary as the cutting tool moves. The cutting tool moves in three directions as it cuts the excess material from the workpiece. A CNC milling machine is used for forming simple geometric shapes.

CNC turning machines

Also known as lathes, CNC turning machines, these tools involve the movement of the workpiece on a spindle. The primary difference between CNC milling machines and CNC turning machines is that in the latter, the workpiece moves as the cutting tool remains stationary. These machines allow for the production of cylindrical products with high tolerance. The machines are also quite fast. The only significant disadvantage with this type of CNC machine is that it can only be used for cylindrical parts.

2. Multi-axis CNC machines

These CNC machines offer a higher degree of precision and freedom in mechanical movement. They can employ both rotational and diagonal cutting operations simultaneously. This is because they have five axes. They can either move simultaneously or take turns. The primary types of CNC machines in this category include:

a. Indexed 5-axis Milling machines

These types of CNC machines can only cut along three linear axes as they work. However, they can rotate the bed and tool-head in between operations. This allows for increased shaping abilities of the machine. It is ideal for intricate manufacturing tasks.

b. Continuous 5-axis milling machines

These machines allow for the simultaneous movement of the five axes. The three primary axes are known as the linear axes, while the additional two are known as rotational axes. They are used for rotating the piece to allow for complex design. These machines are great for products that require high precision.

c. Mill-turning CNC centers

These machines combine the characteristics of CNC lathes and milling machines. Here, the workpiece rotates at high speeds allowing for better precision.


Each of the types of CNC machines listed above has its benefits and downsides. 5-axis CNC machines are more advantageous than the latter. However, they are only suitable for parts with intricate design elements.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment