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How to Use a CNC Machine: The Only Guide You Need

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Whether you’re a niche operator learning how to program a CNC machine or small woodworking business carving out your own path, the software is a crucial part of your maker’s journey.

With proper software like Easel and X Crave from Inventables, you can create anything, however, in order to go from a novice maker with a pet project to a master machinist, you have to understand how to use a CNC machine.

Are you trying to figure out how to use a CNC machine? If yes, you should check out our guide here on the important things to know.

What Is a CNC Machine?

CNC is an acronym for computer numerical control. First developed in the 1940s CNC refers to the concept of controlling the production of machine tools or parts by computer. 

How Does a CNC Machine Work?

When a manufacturer needs to make parts from a solid piece of material like wood, steel,  aluminum, or even plastic, A CNC machine is able to precisely remove layers from even the toughest blank or workpiece. 

Benefits of CNC Machines?

This ability to finely tweak what is referred to as blank or workpiece material is one reason why CNC machines are commonly used. 

From how far in each direction to move to how fast to move the cutter, a CNC operator can write a part program to their specification and make any machine tools from the blank material. 

Before CNC machines, machinists would manually control machine tools. 

Because of the CNC machine’s ability to quickly and effectively produce more machine tools without a machinist’s supervision, knowledge on how to operate a CNC machine has become a mandatory skill for all machinist according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even more because of the CNC’s superiority, the global CNC machine market estimated to reach over 100 billion by 2025 according to Global Newswire

How to Use a CNC Machine?

Using a CNC machine for the first time isn’t that frightening as long as you follow these four steps. 

  • Design the Prototype

The first step is to use a Computer-Aided Drafting software or CAD software to design a model of the desired part. Your design can be either 2D or 3D. Using free 3D craving software like from Inventables, you can precisely and accurately calculate the dimensions of your design. 

  • Convert To G-code.

In order for a CNC machine to understand the design from the CAD software, you will need to convert the CAD model into a geometry code or G-code. G-code is a code that simply tells the machine what type of action should be taken to produce the desired part or tool.  

  • Setting up the Machine. 

When setting up the machine, you will need proper tooling and a workholding or any device that can be used to secure your blank from the intense forces of the machining process. 

  • Make It

Inventables tools and software makes it simple to start machining your part or tool today. 

Are You CNC Ready?

Still, wondering how to use a CNC machine? If you have made it this far, then that itch for machine making can now become a tangible passion. Now you see that with a simple grasp of CNC machine basics, any beginner can easily produce machine parts. As you start your CNC machine journey, use this guide to properly create your next machine part or tool. 

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