In previous posts we’ve talked a fair bit about CNC machining and it’s uses.  But what exactly is CNC machining?

In this post we will go back to basics explaining exactly what CNC machining is, what it’s role is in manufacturing and explore a number of benefits to using it over some of the more traditional technologies.

CNC stands for “Computer Numerical Control” and these machines have replaced many of the more traditional machines in the industry — vertical millers, routers, shaping machines, and more.

One benefit of utilising CNC machines is that they allow for very high output, since they can be run continually, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They typically stop production only when they are switched off for occasional routine maintenance.

Unlike traditional machines, CNC machines can be run with minimally trained operators, whereas the traditional machines require more skilled engineers to run smoothly. Plus updating the machines is easy, with a simple software update.

Training of new operators of CNC machines is typically carried out through virtual software, which allows the operator to operate a virtual machine in real time. The training has been said to be pretty similar to a typical video game — just not as fun.

Typically, one person can supervise multiple CNC machines at a single time. Once the machines are programmed, they can usually run on their own unimpeded. Occasionally, the specific cutting tools will need to be replaced, but that is a quick and simple exchange.

A skilled engineer can almost make identical components, but there are always some small differences from piece to piece. CNC machines can manufacture each component exactly over and over, thousands of times, and each one will be an exact match. The precision and speed of CNC machines are nothing less than amazing.

So we just explained many of the benefits but what are the drawbacks for using CNC machines?  It might not surprise you to know that there are not many. First of all, CNC machines are more expensive than the traditional machines.   Another potential downside is that since the CNC machine operators only require some minimal training, the number of skilled personnel in the industry will drop and over time the original machining skills will be lost.

From the viewpoint of increasing profit margins CNC machines are the way to go.  This is proven through their higher and faster production, less manpower required to run the machines, and the ability to hire and train individuals with minimal investment.  At PRV we use CNC machining to manufacture the simplest of products through to to extremely complicated items and assemblies for prototype development and testing.  Contact us today to discuss all your CNC machining needs.


  • Sean

    CNC Machining is definitely the future.

    The engineering talent has moved off the machine to the CADCAM systems.

    That being said a lot of companies still use Engineers at the machine to programme via CNC Controls with companies like Mazak Haas and XYZ making the control systems easier to use.


    • PRV Engineering

      Hi Sean and thanks for the comment.

      Certainly agree with your thoughts on this and yes manufacturers such as Mazak Haas making control systems simpler will have an effect too.


  • Helman Jr.

    Precision, Quantity, Automated Machining who else can fulfill these demands but CNC. CNC machining is now even more automated with CAD/CAM and Robots in workshops. But I think now cnc machinists has lot more burden on their shoulders.

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