What does CNC stand for?

If you’re wondering what CNC stands for then you probably aren’t too familiar with the industry, and that’s okay, this can be a learning opportunity!


In short, CNC stands for Computerized Numerical Control. It is a digital manufacturing process where software, that has been preprogrammed or coded by a CNC machinist, controls the movement of a physical machine. The code tells the machine exactly where to cut and shape various materials which will turn those materials into a mold or a product.



How did CNC come to be known as computerized numerical control? Well that is an interesting tale! In it's earliest form, numerical control was created in the 1700s but became popular in the 1940s & 1950s when the technology was adopted and distributed by the American Airforce. This technology was then further developed at MIT to include a specialized language based on points and lines that would tell a machine direct a machine to make cuts, drills etc. based on points in space.


When computer prices dramatically fell in the 1960s, there was an introduction of lower-cost CNC machines to the manufacturing industry. Already, these machines were showcasing their staying power because they reduced the frequency of errors found in manual numerical control (NC), gave CNC operators more free time and improved the consistency and quality of products made.



In the 2000's the code used to instruct machines became standardized. G-code became the standard. This is the code a machinist writes that tells a machine where to make cuts. Though G-code is the standard, it is not the only code CNC machinists use. Some companies will use proprietary software for coding that is unique to their business and there are other coding techniques as well.


Here, at DC Automotive Tooling, our machinists tend to use G-code. We prefer to use the industry standard so that regardless of where our machinists learned their craft they'll be able to code with confidence.