Types of CNC machines: applications and differences



Exploring the different types of CNC machines

It's clear that the market for CNC machine tools is just as varied as the tasks these machines have to perform. This is because, with the advent of Industry 4.0 and modern smart factories, these machines have gradually taken on a more predominant role within industries, particularly manufacturing. CNC technology offers efficiency, precision and consistency, which are difficult to achieve with manual machining processes. There are various methods for classifying CNC machines, most of which are based on their design and intended tasks. Among the various types of CNC machines are milling machines, lathes, laser or plasma cutting machines, drilling machines, and grinding machines. They each have their own unique features and functionalities that can be customised using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs, enabling precise control over the movements of cutting tools and workpieces.

CNC milling machines: features and applications

CNC milling machines perform high-precision and versatile operations to remove material from a workpiece and shape it according to specific requirements, also producing intricate and custom shapes. They come in both vertical and horizontal versions and can be outfitted with different types of milling cutter tools, such as end mill cutters, reamers, face milling tools, taps and common cutters. Vertical milling machines feature a vertically oriented spindle that holds and rotates the cutting tool. On the other hand, horizontal milling machines have a horizontally oriented spindle, which enables them to remove material more aggressively and clear away chips more effectively. Horizontal milling machines also have the advantage of accommodating larger workpieces than vertical ones.

CNC lathes: operation and use

The CNC lathe is a highly effective tool that rotates the workpiece around a central axis, cutting it with cutters to remove material and shape it as needed. It can be categorised into three types: turret lathes, motorised lathes and special lathes. Used for various processes like cutting, honing, facing, drilling, turning and knurling, CNC lathes are ideal for producing symmetrical components, but they're not just limited to that. In fact, they are also used to manufacture products such as camshafts, car parts, gun barrels, crankshafts, baseball bats, musical instruments, dining tables and furniture legs.

CNC Lasers: Technologies and Fields of Application

Two types of CNC milling machines equipped with lasers are mainly used for cutting various sheet metals: CO2 and solid-state machines. The highly concentrated beam allows for extremely precise cuts, even more so than plasma cutting. These machines have diverse applications, such as making aerospace parts, car chassis, medical equipment and engraving materials. One notable feature of CNC laser-machined products is their clean, high-quality edges, distinguishing them from products made by other machining processes. This is due to the fact that there is no mechanical contact or force exerted on the material. Consequently, there is no need for additional finishing processes.

Other types of CNC machines: analysis and specifications

As mentioned, there are many different types of CNC machines, each with its own set of applications. In addition to the ones already mentioned, there are also CNC router machines used in carpentry and metalworking workshops that produce carved wooden furniture, mouldings, interior and exterior decorations, door carvings, signage and musical instruments; CNC Electric Discharge Machines (EDM) used in injection moulding, die-casting, punching and prototyping, or CNC grinding machines used in the automotive, aerospace and tool-making industries.

Choose the right CNC machine with Assistec

If your company wants to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 and advance into the future, Assistec is your ideal technological partner! Situated in the heart of the metalworking district in Reggio Emilia, we have over 25 years of experience in CNC machines and industrial automation, and in providing mechanical and electronic support for machinery. Moreover, we have a business unit dedicated entirely to robotics. We are a young and dynamic company that specialises in troubleshooting and minimising machine downtime.

Find the right CNC machine tool for your needs! Contact us or call +39 0522989436 for more information. One of our operators will contact you with a personalised offer.

Recent Posts


  • What is the CNC lathe and how does it work?

    The computer numerical control (CNC) lathe is one of the most advanced and precise tools in the field of machining. Its ability to perform complex machining operations with high precision and repeatability has, after all, revolutionised the manufacturing industry, significantly optimising production processes in many sectors. In the following lines, we will explore in detail how the CNC lathe works, analysing its main components, the programming process and practical applications.

    We will also look at the interactions between hardware and software, the types of tools used and how machining parameters are controlled, to summarise the potential of a technology that has become strategically relevant today.

  • An Evening of Cohesion and Fun for Our Team!

    On Friday 31 May, we spent the late afternoon and evening in cohesion and fun with activities that strengthened the bonds between us.

    Activities held:

    - An exciting quiz on our company, where we tested our knowledge and shared laughs.

    -A table-football tournament where great talent and team spirit emerged, also showing the competitive side!

    To end on a high note, we had a company barbecue in collaboration with Grill Street BBQ, a perfect opportunity to relax after the different matches!

    P.S.: The photos are not great, but it's a sign that the afternoon was fun!

  • This past weekend, our company had the honour of being a sponsor of the NATIONAL BBQ CHAMPIONSHIP, an event officially sanctioned by the World BBQ Association WBQA, which was held in Campagnola Emilia, in the province of Reggio Emilia! 

    It was an extraordinary experience, full of flavours, exciting competitions and unforgettable moments. We had the opportunity to meet BBQ enthusiasts from all over Italy, supporting the best grill masters in the country.

    We are happy to have been part of this adventure!