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Types of CNC Machine Control Systems


With the help of CNC machine control systems, the productivity and quality of work for these machines has increased significantly. Therefore, businesses that have not already updated their machines to CNC integration, it is high time they do so.

In this article, we will be looking at and understanding the different types of CNC machine control systems out there in the market. Let us begin right away.

Table of Contents
What are CNC control systems?
Types of CNC control systems

What are CNC control systems?

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) system is a type of technology that helps feed information into a manufacturing machine to inform it about what it has to do. It is a means to automate these manufacturing machines with software embedded microcomputers that are attached to them.

Therefore, for each product that the machine makes, operators need to input a custom program for it. The language used for this is a standard international language called G-code. The programming allows the machine to know specific data about how the product is supposed to be. With the data, the machine can make exactly what businesses want.

Types of CNC control systems

Now that we understand what CNC control systems are, we will now move on to understanding the different types of CNC control systems out there.

Generally, CNC control systems can be divided based on the following factors:

  • Number of axes
  • Motion type
  • Control loop

Let us elaborate on this further.

Number of axes

Every manufacturing machine has axes with which the tools move over the material to give them the desired effect, whether it is bending, shearing, cutting, or pressing. CNC control systems can be based on the number of axes that a machine has. There can be the following number of axes:

  • Two axes

In these types of CNC control systems, you get only two axes—the X-axis and Z-axis.

  • Two and a half axes

In this type, you get three axes — the X-axis, Y-axis, and a third axis. However, though it may be a three axes system, the axes do not move in a 3D way. That’s why the name—2.5 axes.

  • Three axes

Similar to 2.5 axes, this type has three axes — X, Y, and Z, where Z helps move in a 3D way. These types of CNC control machines are the most popular type. The bed length of the machines with such systems matters a lot as it is directly proportional to increasing costs.

  • Four axes

This type of system has four axes — X, Y, Z, and an additional rotation on a B-axis. Therefore, a 4-axes system is simply a 3-axes system with an additional B-axis, which allows the axes to move both vertically and horizontally.

  • Five axes

The same applies for this kind as a 5-axis system is nothing but a 3-axis system with additional rotation in the Z and Y direction. These additional axes are called the A-axis and B-axis, respectively.

Motion type

The next classification of CNC control systems is based on their motion type. Let us take a look.

  • Point-to-point system

In this kind of machine, the tools are static, as they are put in a position to complete their task. Once the task is complete, they retract. The material is then moved to the next position of work for the tools to work again.

  • Contouring system

Contouring systems on the other hand have a tool that moves and ‘contours’ on the material to create the desired detail or design. Here, the material is laid still and the tool does the job of moving all over the material.

Control loop

CNC control systems can also be classified based on the control loop. Here are the different types of CNC control systems under this category:

  • Open loop

In these kinds of systems, the controller is responsible for converting the information from the input and transferring it to the servo amplifiers. Because there is no scope of feedback here, there might be inaccuracies.

  • Closed loop

As the name suggests, in this system the CNC controller gets feedback from the machine regarding the process and the programmed input due to its closed loop. Here, the CNC systems work on a servomechanism with a closed-loop principle.

The feedback is read either through a digital or analog system. These are excellent systems as they have the ability to accurately read operation conditions, provide accurate feedback, and make the necessary adjustments.


That is all there is to know about CNC control systems and their different types. Knowing how different machines work and their purposes help businesses make the right decisions when it comes to investing in the right options for them.

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