Computer Numerical Control Machine Definition & Meaning

A computer numerical control machine is a computer that gives commands to manufacturing machines to help design and produce equipment more efficiently. The computer controls the machinery, which cuts materials into parts depending on the specifications programmed into the computer. A numerical control machine was initially developed by John Parsons in the 1940s and 50s (he was not the only researcher to develop numerical control machinery, but he did patent it). Numerical control involved programming machines to perform tasks, but initially it was human-run. Computer numerical control (CNC) machines automated some of the process.

CNC machines connect to machinery within a manufacturing warehouse or plant and give them specifically programmed commands. The machines then cut, drill, and design parts and products accordingly. The heavier reliance on machines eliminates much human labor: when CNC machines were introduced, they made machinery and parts production much more efficient. CNC machines also design parts very specifically, providing a way to make the same piece of machinery multiple times without variance. The computer programming does have to be very specific and accurate so that error is eliminated as often as possible there’s very little margin for it in machine manufacturing.

CNC machine software

Software allows manufacturers to visualize the product design and testing processes through different stages. The most common types of CNC software are computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM).

  • Computer aided design allows users to visualize how pieces fit together and how the entire machine would work with different parts, often using either 2D or 3D modeling.
  • Computer aided manufacturing plans how a mechanical system or part should run and helps the product testing process succeed. It can also offer 3D modeling features.

CAD and CAM software are similar and are often combined by providers.






Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for websites such as Webopedia.com and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

Top Articles

The Complete List of 1500+ Common Text Abbreviations & Acronyms

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a...

Windows Operating System History & Versions

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

What are the 5 Generations of Computers?

UPDATED: This article was updated on April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments...

Random Access Memory (RAM)...

UPDATED: This article Updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Random Access Memory (RAM)...

OEM – original equipment...

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster OEM (pronounced as...

Best ERP Software for...

UPDATED: This page was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Enterprise resource planning...