What is CNC machining

How does CNC machining work?

CNC processing is a manufacturing process that uses the computer-aided operation of CNC machines to deliver precisely tailored and highly precise results. In CNC processing, CNC machines are used for the production of small series as well as individual parts. With CNC machining centers, large quantities and series production can be produced.

Synonym (s): CNC machining, CNC machine, CNC machining centers

Work steps in CNC machining


In the preparatory phase of CNC machining, prefabricated semi-finished products, mostly plates or rods, are processed into various shapes. Depending on the material, dimensions or number of pieces, the semi-finished products go through different cutting processes. These preparatory cutting processes include sawing, water jet cutting, laser cutting and flame cutting.

Setting up a CNC machine

When setting up, the CNC machine is set up and prepared for the production of the component. This includes clamping the semi-finished products and preparing the milling and turning tools.


In this step the CNC machine or the CNC machining center is programmed. Programming takes place either directly on the control of the CNC machine or via CAM software.

Production of the CNC machine

The production or CNC processing takes place after the completion of the three previous work steps. CNC machining takes place on CNC machines such as CNC milling machines or CNC lathes. Machines that combine several machining steps are called CNC machining centers.

CNC machining process

Where can CNC machining be used?

Material for CNC machining

Mainly metals and plastics are used for CNC machining. Metals include copper, aluminum, brass, carbon steel, or stainless steel. In the field of plastics, you can choose between polyethene, PET, PMMA, PVC and many more.

Advantages of CNC machining

  • Economical machining of complex workpieces.
  • Compliance with extremely precise dimensions.
  • Reduction of the reject rate.
  • Modification and storage of programs.

Disadvantages of CNC machining

  • Specialists are usually needed to rectify faults.
  • High acquisition costs.
  • The complex construction of the machine results in higher maintenance costs.
  • Operation requires trained personnel.