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types of cnc machines

The Different Types of CNC Machines and How They Increase Throughput

What is CNC Machining?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes a custom-written computer software program that is then loaded into the CNC machine. It then translates CAD drawings into a machine language that instructs the machine on what movements the cutting tool should make to create the product with the desired dimensions, including tight tolerances. 

This manufacturing process is subtractive, meaning parts of the material are removed by the machine to create the desired product. There are a few different types of CNC machines that are common, including CNC milling which utilizes vertical and horizontal mills, and CNC turning using conventional and Swiss lathes. CNC machining is a great process for projects that would be difficult to create manually and projects that are difficult to replicate.   

Types of CNC Machines and How They Impact Performance

3-Axis CNC Mill

In this type of CNC machine, the workpiece is held stationary while the cutting tools move along the X-, Y-, and Z-axes, shaping the workpiece as it moves. This process cuts sharp edges, performs boring and tapping, mills slots, and drills holes. 3-axis CNC milling is ideal for parts that are simple and do not require intricate details. It’s commonly used to create mechanical parts. 

4-Axis CNC Mill

This CNC machining process also includes a stationary workpiece with the tooling moving to remove material along the X-, Y-, Z-, and A-axes. The machine rotates the tool or the workpiece in order to complete the job. 4-axis CNC milling is used to cut holes, cut along arcs, carve cut-outs on cylinders, perform precision engravings, and perform milling and drilling operations. 

5-Axis CNC Mill

This precise manufacturing method is relatively quick as well, not requiring more than two setups of the part. The machine can hit five sides of a part simultaneously through X-, Y-, and Z-axis translation and A- and C-axis rotation. 5-axis CNC milling creates highly precise products and parts and is ideal for use in the medical, aerospace, military, and automotive industries. 

Swiss Lathe

Lathes use rotational force to shape materials. The Swiss lathe uses a collet and guide bushing to hold the stock material in place so securely that it is less likely to vibrate during manufacturing. The lathe then turns, shaping the material into the desired part or product. Swiss lathing creates thinner, more precise cuts and is ideal for creating intricate, small-diameter parts with tight tolerances. 

CNC Lathe

The CNC lathe has a turret that holds 12 or more tools, including live tooling for milling operations. The tools rely on the software in the CNC machine to shape parts as the machine rotates around the material. This type of CNC machining is more accurate than manual conventional lathing and is used to create parts and products with complex designs. 

Garland Service Company Has Various Types of CNC Machines to Meet Your Needs