What are the Different Types of CNC Machines

What are the Different Types of CNC Machines

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cnc machining

There are a ton of types of cnc machines out there. The cnc industry has been extremely exciting over the past decade with the advent of better waterjet cutters, laser cutters and plasma cutters. It seems cnc operators are popping up everywhere as the cost of machines are coming down.

Below I’ll go over some of the different types of cnc machines and what training you made to operate each.

Types of cnc milling machines

Plasma cnc machine

Using extreme heat, a plasma cutter sends an electric arc through a gas that is passing through a tiny opening. There are different types of gas that can be used, including nitrogen, air, oxygen, and argon.

There is a ton of pressure that builds up (much like a small nozzle opening of a workshop air gun). This shoots the gas out at an extremely high speed to cut stronger items like metal or aluminum.

Laser cnc machine

A laser cnc machine uses a source beam (typically CO2 or YAG laser) to laser cut or laser mark a particular product. Mostly used for 2d work, a cnc operator, engineer or electro mechanical technician will have no issues running the software as CAD/CAM systems do a lot of the heavy lifting here. Laser cutting does leave a bit of a burnt edge on wood, so in terms of types of cnc machines, the laser machine wouldn’t be the go to for a wooden medium.

Waterjet cnc cutters

Waterjet cnc machines are just plain awesome. Who would’ve thought we’d be cutting metal with water? I didn’t even think it was possible, but alas, the waterjet cnc cutter blasts a highly pressurized jet of water to cut material as tough as metal. The great thing about these type of cnc machines is that the finished edge isn’t heat affected. This means there is limited weakness on the cutting edge.

Regular cnc milling machines

This one is pretty straight forward and the most common cnc machine out there. This one acts like a drill and uses different router bits which can or can be similar to drill bits to drill down and into the material. This is commonly found in 3, 4, and 5 axis cnc machines due to the flexibility of these types of machines. Regular cnc milling machines are also the cheapest option for a workshop and can start as a non-cnc machine and be retrofitted to become an actual cnc machine.

Other: Desktop cnc machines

Desktop or benchtop cnc machines are typically milling machines that are very similar to a mill that uses a drill head. The benefit to a benchtop cnc milling machine is tha tit is compact and can be stowed away easy. This is important for workshops that need the space for other work when not using a desktop cnc machine. People who are beginners as well as expert cnc operators or engineers will have no issue learning to use one of these machines.

Software for desktop cnc machines typically come with a machine of this type. This could potentially save thousands as mentioned in some of our other articles in the past. I’ve always been a big fan of the cnc or engineering route, but in terms of other tech courses, I highly recommend checking out some of George Brown’s courses, especially their PLC training course and electromechanical training course here.

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