CNC Glossary


CAM (Computer-aided manufacturing) An NC programming tool where 3D models of components generated in CAD software are used to generate CNC code to drive numerical controlled machine tools
CNC (computer numerical control) Refers specifically to a computer “controller” that reads G-code instructions and drives the machine tool.
CAD/CAM Part Programming The computer calculation and creation of a tool-path based on part geometry information created in CAD.
Canned cycle A set machining sequence used to simplify programming.
Database Computer storage that holds searchable data.
Detail Drawing A drawing of a part giving a complete and exact description of its shape and size.
Dimension The desired measurement of a part
Drawing Exchange Format DXF. A standard storage format for personal computer-based CAD/CAM platforms
G-Code Common name for the programming language that controls NC and cnc machine tools
Geometry The measurement, property, and relationship of the lines and points of an object that make up its shape
M Code A code used to signal an action from a miscellaneous group of commands. M codes change cutting tools, turn on or turn off the coolant, spindle, or work piece clamps, etc.
Machine Control Unit A small, powerful computer that controls and operates a CNC machine.
Machine Tool Mechanical device, used to manufacture components by machining.
Machining The selective removal of material
Numerical Control The use of computers and special program instructions to execute the sequence of machining operations to make a part.
Part Program A series of numerical instructions used by a machine tool to perform the necessary sequence of operations to machine a specific work piece.
Sub-Program Acting as a part programming shortcut, a part program sequence that is called on as needed.
Tolerance A blueprint specification indicating an unwanted but acceptable deviation from a given dimension
Tool-path The series of coordinate positions that determine the movement of a tool during a machining operation.
Working Drawing A drawing of a part providing data for manufacturing
X-Axis An axis that is left or right. All movement left of a zero point is minus (-X), all movement right of the zero point is plus (+X).
Y-axis An axis that is at right angles to the X-axis and intersect the zero point of the X-axis. All movement further away from the zero point is plus (+Y). All movement closer than the zero point is minus (-Y).
Z-axis An axis that is vertically perpendicular to the X-Y zero point. All movement above the zero point is positive (+Z) while all movement below the zero point is (-Z).

CNC Glossary