History and Definition of CNC 100

This class outlines the origin of today's CNC machines and explains how modern CNC evolved from its original designs.

Class Details

Class Name:
History and Definition of CNC 100
Number of Lessons:
Additional Language:
Spanish, Chinese

Class Outline

  • Objectives
  • Modern Manufacturing
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
  • CNC Versatility
  • History of NC Machines
  • Increases in NC Use
  • Changes From NC to CNC Systems
  • Common CNC Machines
  • Other CNC Machines
  • Key Advantages of CNC
  • CNC Benefits
  • CNC Costs
  • Summary


  • Describe the demands of modern manufacturing.
  • Identify the essential components of CNC.
  • Describe factors that contribute to the versatility of CNC.
  • Describe the origin of NC machinery.
  • Identify factors influencing the early use of NC.
  • Distinguish between NC and CNC.
  • Identify common CNC machines.
  • Identify less common CNC machines.
  • Describe the advantages of CNC.
  • Describe the benefits of CNC.
  • Describe the disadvantages of CNC.

Job Roles


  • Metalforming I
  • MSSC Manufacturing Processes and Production


Vocabulary Term Definition
code To create programmable sets of instructions for a CNC machine.
computer numerical control A type of programmable automation, directed by mathematical data, which uses microcomputers to carry out various machining operations.
downtime Unproductive blocks of time during which operations cease to function, normally due to mechanical problems or a lack of materials.
drill A machining tool used to penetrate the surface of a workpiece and make a round hole.
electrical circuitry A closed path that an electric current follows, usually through devices and wires.
end mill A thin, tall mill cutter with cutting edges that wind up the sides. Both the bottom and side of the end mill are used during milling operations. End mills resemble drills.
face mill A flat mill cutter with multiple cutting teeth surrounding the tool. The bottom of the face mill is primarily used during milling operations.
finishing Final operations performed for obtaining desired tolerance and/or surface finish.
fixed automation A process using mechanized machinery to perform fixed and repetitive operations in order to produce a high volume of similar parts.
grinder A machine that uses an abrasive to wear away at the surface of a workpiece.
hardware The physical components of a CNC machine.
interface The control panel and displays with which the operator interacts with the machine.
job changeover The time it takes to switch from one part to another.
lathe A tool commonly used to machine cylindrical forms. It is generally considered the backbone of the machine shop.
machine control unit A small, powerful computer that controls and operates a CNC machine.
magazine A arrangement of multiple tools that allows a CNC machine to rapidly change from one machining operation to the next.
mill A machining tool used to either horizontally or vertically remove metal from the surface of a workpiece.
mylar tape A thin, yet strong polyester film that was used to transmit programs to numerically controlled machines.
paper tape A way of transmitting programs to numerically controlled machines. This method is all but extinct.
part program A series of numerical instructions used by a CNC machine to perform the necessary sequence of operations to machine a specific workpiece.
prototype The original test model of a product.
punch presses A machine that uses force to either cut or form a workpiece.
punching Using force to cut or form a workpiece.
repeatable The ability to position workpieces in the same place part after part.
stamping Forming metal with the use of dies and punches.
three-axis curvature data Information that describes the motion and position of an object using three-dimensional data.
turret press A CNC punch press that contains several tools.
welder A device used to join two pieces of metal together through the application of heat.