Manufacturers commonly use computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines for cutting, tapping, countersinking and cutting complex features. CNC milling machines help save time and money, allowing fabricators economic ways to transform objects into products. Here are key points to know about CNC machines and why they are widely used across many industries.

How CNC Machines Have Revolutionized Milling

Prior to the rise of CNC machines in the sixties, milling – or the cutting and drilling process to make tools – was done with manual tools. These days CNC milling machines with 2 to 5 axes are favored due to accuracy from computer programming. Axes are labeled letters such as X and Y, which associate with horizontal movement, whereas Z is used to reflect vertical movement.

Jobs can be completed much quicker without sacrificing quality. The machines are used for making parts in various industries such as aerospace and medicine. They are also commonly used for machine components, offroad components and prototypes. A milling machine has the capability of milling a wide variety of precision shapes on wood, plastic and metal that cannot be created manually.

Although CNC machines are capable of cutting through any type of object, it’s mainly used for cutting metal. There are multiple types of CNC machines that must be considered for any given assignment. Some machines are more appropriate than others for cutting thick metal.

Why CNC Machines Are Favored for Prototyping

A common use of CNC machines is to create a prototype of a new product. The machine can be programmed to make complex cuts quickly, making it useful when adjustments need to be made on prototypes. It’s the ideal choice for high volume repeatability. The machine relies on digital instructions from a CAM or CAD file.

The tools on a CNC machine are capable of doing the jobs of classic workshop machines such as grinders, drills and lathes. These machines come in different types, such as laser cutters, plasma cutters and water-jet cutters. CNC machines with laser cutters are becoming more widely adopted over traditional cutting tools for prototyping because they provide greater efficiency. Key benefits include easy testing, accurate replication and environmental sustainability. Using CNC machines reduces waste and costs of raw materials.


Cutting shapes, tapping, countersinking and drilling holes to make machine parts does not have to be a long drawn out process, which is why manufacturers are increasingly using CNC milling machines for prototypes and products. Contact us at Serra Laser for more information about how to meet deadlines on prototypes quickly using CNC technology.

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