Computer numerical control (CNC) turning is a subtractive machining process where a cutting tool is placed against a spinning piece to take material off. This is usually done with a CNC lathe or turning center which cuts the material including wood, metal, and plastic.
Most subtractive CNC machines such as mills, water jets, and plasma cutters have the workpiece secured to a bed and the cutting done by a spinning tool. To cut, the tool moves across the workpiece or a tool head shoots at it. In contrast, CNC turning reverses that process by rotating the workpiece and cutting away at it (by moving a static cutting bit against the workpiece).
Because of how they operate, CNC mills are primarily used for creating complicated geometries, while CNC lathes are used for creating cylindrical or oblong shapes. A CNC lathe is usually chosen over a CNC mill or 3D printer because of its ability to make multiples of the same part incredibly fast and from one stock piece of material.
Keep in mind that lathes can spin very heavy workpieces at incredible speeds. These machines are built to handle major projects with precision and a small mistake can lead to serious injury or damage.
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