At PD Peterka, we talk a lot about the kinds of CNC machining projects we’ve worked on in the past and the ease of working with a CNC machine shop as an outsource manufacturer. However, not all of our readers know what kinds of products and prototypes are even possible with CNC Machining to begin with. In this blog, we’re here to answer what kinds of CNC machines are out there and the kinds of products machinists can create with them. Hopefully, this introduction to CNC Machining will help turn your next design or prototype into a reality.

Types of CNC Machines

Knowing the kinds of technology, both old and new, available to you can guide you in deciding which machines will best suit the materials you would like to work with. Here are the five different kinds of CNC machines currently out there:

  1. Lathes – CNC lathes are commonly used in glass working, parts reclamation, metal spinning, metalworking, woodturning, and thermal spraying, and have a wide variety of applications from firearms manufacturing, to automotive and aerospace.[ 1]
  2. Mills – Also known as CNC machine centers, milling machines can be used for woodworking and metal engraving to create wooden and metal sculptures or parts. They are controlled via computer code, similar to other types of CNC machines.
  3. Router – A CNC router can engrave wood, metal, or plastic and is a very common type of CNC machine. The user does not manipulate the router, only enters information into the computer.
  4. Plasma – CNC plasma cutters are used to cut metal and wood (2 dimensional) and do not require as much power as a CNC router. These machines use a plasma torch to penetrate wood or sheet metal.
  5. Laser – CNC laser cutters operate quite like CNC plasma cutters, but instead, a laser is used to cut the wood or metal. Lasers can also be used to cut plastic.
  6. 3D Printer – 3D printers use CNC technology and operate using similar technology as CNC lasers, but utilize an extruder to slowly deposit plastic in a consistent motion until the desired product is complete.
  7. Pick and Place – Pick and Place CNC Machines consist of several nozzles that pick up electrical components for electronic equipment and place them in the desired location. These are very commonly used in the construction of cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. [2]

CNC Machining Products

Many of the products we take for granted every day are manufactured with CNC machining technology like, “ventilators, pens, paintball guns, rims for tyres, guitars, parts for wooden clocks, badges and much more.” [3] The ease of producing plastic, metal, and wood repeatable parts safely, efficiently, and economically with CNC machining is unmatched. This element of precision and speed that CNC machining provides makes this method of manufacturing popular in healthcare, aerospace, automobile, and defense industries that produce some of the most important technology in the modern world.

Whether the parts themselves are delicate and intricate or basic and flexible, CNC machining can produce them again and again with little waste and virtually zero opportunity for human error. If you’re looking for a reliable means of producing machined parts of almost any kind, consider the options CNC machining can bring to the table.

For more information on CNC lathes and mills and outsource manufacturing, contact PD Peterka. Our experts in CNC machining technology and processes would be happy to help guide you in the right direction.