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CNC stands for Computer(ized) Numerical(ly) Control(led), and refers specifically to the computer control of machine tools for the purpose of repeatedly manufacturing complex parts in metal and other materials, using a program written in a notation conforming to the EIA-274-D standard and commonly called G-code.

CNC was developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s by the MIT Servomechanisms Laboratory. It's now commonly used around the world to create exacting punches, milling, and drilling. For manufacturers and fabricators, CNC technology is simply the way business is done.

This gives the CNC user several side benefits including reduced operator fatigue, fewer mistakes caused by human error, and consistent and predictable machining time for each piece. Since the machine will be running under program control, the skill level required of the CNC operator (related to basic machining practice) is also reduced as compared to a machinist producing work pieces with conventional machine tools.

The introduction of CNC machines changed manufacturing. With CNC, curves cut as easily as straight lines; 3-D structures are relatively easy to produce. The second major benefit of CNC technology is consistent and accurate work pieces. Today's CNC machines boast almost unbelievable accuracy and repeatability specifications. This means that once a program is verified, two, ten, or one thousand identical work pieces can be easily produced with precision and consistency.

CNC has heralded a new age of productivity

It reduces the number of machining steps that require human action have been dramatically reduced, and this has automated the industry -- especially the productivity of machine and manufacturing applications.

We're consistently better with CNC equipment. Higher quality is a fact of life. With the increased automation of manufacturing processes and machining, we're faster, too.

CNC automation nearly eliminates errors and provides CNC operators with time to multitask and more effectively work.

It also allows for more flexibility in the way parts are held in the manufacturing process and the time required to change the machine to produce different components.

In a production environment, a series of CNC machines may be combined into one station -- commonly called a cell -- to progressively machine a part requiring several operations.

CNC and Computer Added Drafting

CNC machines are controlled directly from files created by CAD software packages, so that a part or assembly can go directly from design to manufacturing without the need of producing a drafted paper drawing of the manufactured component.

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