What Industries Use CNC Machinery?: A Quick Guide

CNC machinery is revolutionizing businesses across all industries.

CNC metal cutting machine slashes costs, time and offers numerous benefits to businesses in the industrial and manufacturing fields. These businesses enjoy high-quality products that improve productivity and increase profits.

Are businesses in the industrial and manufacturing industries the only ones that can enjoy the benefits of CNC machinery?

CNC machinery is an incredibly diverse industry. What many people don’t know is what exactly is CNC machinery and what industries use it?

Here’s everything you need to know about CNC machines and the industries that can benefit from CNC machinery.

What Is CNC Machining?

Today’s computers consist of advancements, applications, and software designed to fit in any and every industry. Industrial and manufacturing industries benefit from the use of computers in their technology.   

CNC or computer numerical control is a type of machinery powered by a computer. CNC machining is a process of computer-powered machines removing layers from a piece of material known as a blank or workspace.

CNC machining uses a subtractive process to create custom products. The blank can consist of nearly any material including:

  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Wood
  • Foam
  • Composites

The applications range from quality finished products to prototyping and machining for aerospace parts. The uses of these products are limitless.

This process is the opposite of an additive process such as 3D printing or formative manufacturing. Additive processes add layers of a specific material to create the custom part or design. 

What Is a CNC Machine?

While CNC machining refers to the process, CNC machinery is the technology and machines used to perform the process.

A CNC machine is programmable to perform specific processes to create a custom design. Once programmed, the machine is autonomous and will complete the project without human guidance or control.

Each tool offers advantages for crafting pieces based on the material and the design. This offers greater versatility and the ability to create complex parts.

CNC machinery offers benefits such as:

  • Ability to create one-off models
  • Low costs
  • Create custom designs
  • Fast and efficient
  • Improves productivity
  • Highly accurate and precise
  • Versatile
  • Great for prototyping
  • Effective low and medium production runs
  • Automation

CNC machinery also has several disadvantages. The main issue some industries face with CNC is it limits the complexity and design of your product. Since CNC is a subtractive process, creating certain designs can be challenging and impossible.

The CNC machinery uses cylindrical tooling which creates rounded corners. There are limitations based on the minimum and maximum part size and the complexity of internal features.

Types of CNC Machines

A CNC machine uses different tools to cut and shape each project. Here are a few of the most common CNC machines available.

Milling Machines

A CNC milling machine uses a rotating cutter to cut and remove chips from the material. These machines can cut in two and three dimensions over three or five axes.

Lathe Machines

A CNC lathe machine works similarly to a traditional lathe. The machine spins the material along an axis and removes the outer material.

Lathes are ideal for the creation of symmetrical and round products. 

Plasma Cutters, Waterjets, and Lasers

Harder materials, such as metals, require a stronger method. Plasma cutters, lasers, and water jets are efficient methods of cutting steel sheets and other hard materials.

Other CNC Machines

The types of CNC machines don’t end here. Other useful CNC machines include:

  • Foam cutters
  • EDMs (electrical discharge machines)
  • Punches
  • Embroidery
  • Wire bending and tubing bending
  • Pattern cutters
  • Food makers
  • Pottery printers

As you can see, there are many types of CNC machines for multiple uses. There’s a CNC machine designed for any industry and purpose.

The CNC Machining Process

CNC machinery offers numerous uses depending on the industry and a business’s needs. The most notable advantages of CNC machinery are automation and the ability to create custom parts.

The CNC machining process starts with a 2D or 3D CAD (computer-aided design) vector model. CAD designs and CNC vector files include specific part details such as dimensions, geometries, and other necessary technical specifications.

The design must fit within the limitation of the CNC machine. The tools of the CNC machine will limit the

After the designing process, the CAD file will run through a CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software to create the programming code. The CAD design code consists of all the needed part geometries and specifications to control the CNC machine.

Once the code is ready, an operator must set up the CNC machine by attaching the material and paper tools onto the machine. The operator will start the CNC machine which will follow the design code to craft the requested part.

How CNC Machinery Is Used

What industries use CNC machinery? Almost every industry imaginable has or can benefit from the efficiency of a CNC machine.


Aerospace parts must follow strict tolerances to ensure their safety and compliance. CNC can produce highly accurate parts of all complexities for aerospace use.

Defense and Firearms

CNC machining produces quality products with a high level of accuracy. This aids in the production of communication equipment, firearms, tanks, and more in large quantities.


Commercial industries need the ability to create products of varying sizes, shapes, and materials for a variety of needs. CNC offers the versatility to create a variety of parts efficiently.


Today’s technology relies on tiny light-weight products. CNC machining can create tiny products following strict tolerances and high levels of accuracy.


CNC allows rapid prototyping for a higher level of quality control. This leads to a faster method of manufacturing and accuracy of optical products.


Medical instruments, surgical implants, and more need a high level of precision and accuracy. CNC machining offers in-process monitoring for quality assurance.

There are many industries including the arts, music, food, agriculture, and more that benefit from using CNC machining.

Is CNC Machining Right For You?

Does your business or industry require the creation of a specific part or product? The versatility and benefits of CNC machinery will improve your products and raise profits while cutting costs.

The versatility and industry use of CNC machining is growing. If you haven’t yet, check if CNC machinery is the solution for your business needs!

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