What is Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

By Bester PCBA

Last Updated: 2023-10-24

What is Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is a manufacturing method to automate the control, movement, and precision of machine tools. It involves using preprogrammed computer software to generate instructions that control cutting tool operations, allowing for efficient and precise production of PCBs. CNC technology enables the automation of various machine tools such as mills, lathes, routers, drills, grinders, water jets, and lasers. These tools can be programmed to perform specific operations on the PCB material, such as drilling holes, routing traces, and cutting out the final shape of the board.

The CNC system consists of two main components: computer software and the machine tool. The computer software, often created using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software, generates instructions that control the movement and operation of the machine tool. These instructions are then converted into a format the CNC machine can understand. The machine tool, equipped with motors, actuators, and other mechanisms, performs the specified operations with high precision. The CNC software sends signals to these components, controlling their movements and ensuring accurate operations.

CNC technology offers several advantages in the PCB industry. It allows for automating repetitive tasks, improving efficiency and reducing the chances of human error. Once a CNC program is created, it can be used repeatedly to produce identical PCBs, ensuring consistency and quality. CNC technology is not limited to controlling cutting tools; it can also automate non-machine tools, making it versatile in various industries.

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