Acronyms can be confusing. Especially ones that have to do with Engineering. CNC is one of those acronyms that you’ll often find thrown around in a parts shop. It stands for “Computer Numerical Control” and trust me that it isn’t difficult to wrap your head around.

Like our hydraulics explainer, today we’re going to learn about CNC Machining at a very high level.

numerical control in a machine shop settingWhat is Numerical Control?

Great question!

Before understanding what CNC maching is, you’ll need to understand what Numerical Control is. If a system is run by automation (that is, without direct human control) AND follows precisely programmed commands – it is a system run by Numerical Control. When I say “precisely programmed commands” I don’t necessarily mean computer programming. Systems that run on Numerical Control can operate without computers.

However, computers allow for much more precise numbers and commands, so CNC (Computer Numerical Control) is almost always the preferred method of practicing Numerical Control in manufacturing.

What makes CNC different from Numerical Control?

The answer is – efficiency. Computers can generate more precise numbers than we can. Standard Numerical Control isn’t useful when it comes to exact specifications and measurements.

jigsaw“If you can imagine the frustration involved in assembling a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don’t quite fit together, you can understand the importance of precise engineering.”

Without a computer’s ability to generate exact numbers, parts of a whole wouldn’t fit together so nicely. For example, in our shop, we are able to create parts that are certain to fit other parts without directly shaping them with our hands. We are only able to do that because a computer knows the exact measurements of both the part being built and the part that it needs to fit.

CNC machine operations

Without computers, manufacturing parts would be much more prone to error.

CNC means “Computer Numerical Control” and it helps those of us who manufacture parts complete our job with your exact specifications in mind and practice. If you can think of a job – any job – that might need precision manufacturing equipment, contact us and we’ll let you know what we offer.

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