What are CNC Machine Tools?

What are CNC Machine Tools

Machine tools are some of the most important machines used in manufacturing. They encompass a range of different tools and automation systems, but they all have one thing in common: they can be used to cut or shape metal and other materials. Here is our own simple definition:

CNC Machine Tools are a group of stationary machines such as a lathe or mill, that’s most commonly used for cutting metal and other materials to make parts.

CNC machine tools are a central part of the machining process to create parts and components for several global industries. People who have been in Machine Tool industry their entire lives are still learning more every single week. It’s a very complex ever-changing industry and there is always additional things to learn. The basic understanding though is that almost all manufacturing utilizes Machine Tools during the process of making parts, components, to help create all the products we have today.

Manual Machine vs CNC Machine Tool

In modern machining the most common Machine Tools are CNC(Computer Numerical Control) Machine Tools which simply means the machines movement is programmed by it’s control and not manually. CNC Machine Tools provide more accuracy, faster production, and consistency than manual machinery. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when choosing which type of machine tool is right for your application.

Manual machine tools are operated entirely by hand. This means that there is no need for programming or learning CNC Control in order to use them. They are typically much less expensive than CNC machine tools and can be used for a wide variety of applications. However, they are also more likely to produce errors, are not as precise as CNC machined parts, and have a much slower production process.

CNC machine tools are operated by a computer. This means that they require special training and programming in order to use them. They are typically more expensive than manual machine tools but can be more precise and produce less errors.

Another major difference between CNC Machine Tool and a manual machine is the automatic tool changer. This allows the machine to automatically change tools without human intervention. This is beneficial because it makes parts with higher precision, increases efficiency, allow for more complex parts on single machine and the CNC machine can be left unattended for longer periods of time.

Types of CNC Machine Tools

There are five main types of CNC machine tools: milling machines, lathes, grinding machines, drilling machines and EDM machines.

CNC milling machines are used to cut parts out of metal. They use a rotating cutting tool to remove material from a stationary piece of stock. They can also be used to create holes in the stock by moving the cutting tool at a high speed through the stock.

CNC lathes turn stock into various shapes. The stock is held at one end while the cutting tool is moved around its perimeter to create a desired shape on the other end.

CNC grinding machines use abrasive materials, such as sandpaper or silicon carbide grits, to grind down surfaces until they are smooth and flat. This process can also be used to create grooves or holes in parts. Grinding machines can use either manual or automated processes for their operation.

CNC drilling machines use rotary tools to drill holes into metal parts; these holes may be straight or angled depending on what you’re trying to achieve with them. The rotary tool is fed into the part being drilled at high speeds, and then withdrawn once it has completed its task (usually).

EDM machines use electrical current to burn away metal, creating holes or other shapes in the material being worked on. They are primarily used for making small parts with complex shapes that would otherwise require more expensive machining processes.

Popular CNC Machine Brands

Some of the most popular CNC Machine brands in the industry are: 

  • Haas
  • Okuma
  • Mazak
  • DMG Mori
  • Fanuc
  • Fadal
  • Tsugami
  • Hurco
  • Chiron
  • Makino
  • Doosan
  • Hardinge
  • Toyoda
  • GF Machining Solutions
  • Kitamura

This list is to just familiarize you with some of the top names in the machine manufacturing industry. We will be writing lots of additional content about some of the top CNC machine tools and machine tool builders to purchase and work for in your career.

View all of the companies listed on our site here.

Most common CNC Machine Controls

Since the 1990’s, CNC Machining has been the standard in manufacturing. There are several different types, brands, functions of CNC controls and the code tells the machine what to do. CNC Programmers are responsible for creating and inputting this code into the machine. They can manually input this code and tell the machine what to do with G-Code and M-code, or more commonly by utilizing CAD/CAM software to provide instructions for machine to best cut the part.

What Industries use Machine Tools?

Machine tools are used in nearly every manufacturing industry, including the medical, aerospace, defense, automotive, oil and gas, agriculture, mold making, marine and electronics industries. They’re also used in the power generation market by companies that make turbines and other components for power plants.

Other customers of machine tool machines include tool & die shops that build custom parts to exact specifications for various manufacturers.

What career opportunities in the machine tool industry?

As a machine tool professional, the majority of your work will be based on the shop floor. The machine tool industry offers many career paths, including CNC programmer, CNC machinist, application engineer, quality inspector, service engineer or sales engineer to name a few.

The level of training needed will depend upon the path chosen. Most employers in the industry offer some form of apprenticeship program that will train new employees in their specific areas of expertise.


In summary, machine tools are the machines on which parts can be cut or shaped to achieve a desired shape, size and finish. The machining process is taken care of by a cutting tool that is fitted into the machine. Machine Tools help humanity create more reliable parts faster for the masses to enjoy by keeping production costs low. We provided you with a basic understanding of machine tools, CNC Controls, CNC Machine brands, and industries that use machinery to make parts.

Interested in pursing a career in Machine Tools? View all of our posted jobs here.