CNC turning refers to the automated machining process of shaping material, such as metal, wood or plastic, using a computer numeric control (CNC) machine. In contrast to traditional turning utilizing a lathe, which usually requires continuous operator attention, CNC turning allows for multiple cutting actions to be completed under computer control.
During the CNC turning process, a piece of material (wood, metal or plastic) is rotated and a cutting tool is moved parallel to the axis of rotation to produce precise diameters and depths. CNC turning can be performed on the outside of the work piece or the inside (also known as boring) to produce tubular components to various geometries.
The abbreviation CNC stands for computer numerical control, referring specifically to a computer "controller" that reads coded instructions. The controller drives a machine tool – a powered mechanical device – that selectively removes material from a work piece.