Systems & Software

CNC & Machine Controls
The CNC (computer numerical control) system of a machine tool includes the control unit itself, as well as less visible parts of the motion-control system such as the servomotors, drives and axis positioning devices. These components are part of any CNC machine tool, but they might be bought separately and retrofitted later on older machines that are upgraded or refurbished. Also part of the control system are sensors that may allow the control to make certain real-time decisions during unattended or lightly attended machining processes. These can include probes for measuring the position of the part or machined features, as well as monitoring systems for detecting the presence of the tool or the force that is being exerted in the cut.

Featured Zone Content

Vector Programming Eases Five-Axis Aerospace Machining


Because the CNCs on this shop’s largest five-axis machining centers accept vector coordinates as program input instead of traditional G codes, critical jobs can be shifted readily from machine to machine.

The Need to Know Is Basic


An MTConnect-enabled monitoring system gives this shop a clear and simple picture of machine tool usage.

Dashboard view

MTConnect Is For Real


Introduced at IMTS 2008, this communications protocol for CNC machines and other manufacturing equipment is already helping shops and plants implement effective machine monitoring systems. Although these "early adopters" are motivated by the long-term promise of enterprise-wide efficiency gains, their experience with pilot projects shows that benefits derived in the short term are substantial and worthwhile.



Daniel Miller of Heidenhain

Control Capabilities Often Go Unused

By: Peter Zelinski
The value of some control capabilities don’t become apparent until they are seen in use. Heidenhain supports its CNC users with a new Chicago-area training facility.

PartMaker 2016 Includes Support for Broaching

By: Lori Beckman
Highlights of PartMaker 2016 include new 2 ½ axis milling machining strategies, support for the import of multiple solid models into a single PartMaker CAM project file, specialist support for broaching, fast 2D CAD drafting and toolpath selection, and much more.

Automator America AC500 3.0 universal controller

Marking System Controller Expands List of Compatible Equipment

By: Jedd Cole
Automator America has released the AC500 3.0 universal controller for its line of pneumatic, electric and scribe marking systems.

Mazak SmartBox

Open-Protocol Device Enables Connectivity for Legacy Machines

By: Jedd Cole
Mazak’s open-protocol, MTConnect-compliant SmartBox is intended to be a platform for secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things, designed to facilitate connectivity of machines and devices and enhance monitoring and analytical capabilities.

DNC Box Enables CNC File Transfer via USB

By: Jedd Cole
Highland DNC’s ShopLink Flash USB-to-RS-232 adapter enables transfers of DNC program files to and from CNCs via flash drives.


Siemens Answers with the Most Innovative CNC Solutions for Machine Tool Technology
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