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What Is NC Machining And CNC Machining?
Mar 06, 2017

A lathe is a device that turns a work piece on a spindle. Cutters are used to make cylindrically symmetrical pieces (think of table legs). 

In general, NC (numerically controlled) machines are those in which the position of the cutting head, speed of the spindle, and feed rate of the cutter to the work piece are all controlled by a set of coordinates that are programmed into the machine. 

The term CNC (or computer numerically controlled) typically indicates that the desired cut shape is programmed into a computer as a series of splines (curves that a computer can represent as a formula). The computer then translates the splines into position coordinates, and uses those coordinates to feed the machine. 

NC and CNC machines can be many numbers of different types. They can be lathes, mills, saws or drill/rout/bore/reaming machines just to name a few. 

In general, the difference is that an NC machine requires the user to program in coordinates (x,y,z), while a CNC machine allows the used to import a CAD/CAM file or program a visual curve.