CNC Machining vs Conventional Machining

CNC Machining vs Conventional Machining

CNC machining involves using automated and computer-controlled machines to work on raw materials to produce different complex parts. It is ideal for manufacturers working on parts that have to meet strict specifications.

Conventional Machining is not automated and requires a human to prompt and control the tools. The process uses physical tools to remove excess material from the workpieces you are working on. Here, the skills and experience of the machine operator are essential.

What Is CNC Machining?

CNC machining uses programmed instructions and machine tools to remove unwanted materials from a workpiece. The manufacturing process integrates CNC technology, CAD (computer-aided design), and traditional technology.

CNC machining is a process that uses software instructions to control the movement of cutting tools. It involves removing materials from a workpiece using lathes, cutters, grinders, mills, or turning tools.

Pros and Cons of CNC Machining

Since the introduction of CNC machining, the use of manual machines has decreased. Manufacturers in various industries have seen the benefits of CNC machining. However, there are different types of CNC machining processes, and before settling on any, it is beneficial to know its pros and cons.


  • CNC machines can achieve the level of accuracy that manual machines cannot. Manufacturers can achieve accuracy using the appropriate tools even in large-scale productions.
  • Another advantage of CNC machining is the increase in production speed. Machine operators use the fastest settings of CNC machines, which don’t require breaks or run out of steam.
  • All parts created using CNC machining are uniform, and the final products are consistent, as the input instructions are the same throughout production. Uniformity is only affected when the machine operators deliberately change the input details.
  • CNC machining helps in cost savings. Less human input is needed, resulting in fewer salary payments and labor hours. Automation of CNC machining minimizes production times. There are also minimal errors, which save on material usage.
  • CNC machining processes are compatible with wood, plastics, metals, foam, and composites. When selecting these materials, consider hardness, stress resistance, and design tolerance.


  • A CNC machine’s breakdown might require a considerable investment. You will need a specialized technician whose repair fees are usually high. If the issue is broken parts, businesses must incur the replacement cost before the CNC machines can work again.
  • CNC machines are less flexible than conventional machines. To change the production process, you must reprogram, change tools, and make several adjustments. Such changes can reduce inefficiency.
  • CNC machining has led to a decrease in jobs. Manufacturers require fewer laborers and only skilled ones. Finding and retaining qualified CNC operators is challenging.

CNC Drilling

What is Conventional Machining?

Conventional machining uses physical tools such as drill bits and cutting tools. The machines and tools require a human operator. The machine operator places the tool on the raw material and drives intensity using wheels, levers, or buttons.

The most popular conventional machining tool is the cutting tool. Turning is the most popular conventional machining process, where the workpiece rotates as you use a cutting tool and its lathe to remove excess material. Another conventional machining process uses drill bits to remove excess material, creating holes.

Pros and Cons of Conventional Machining

Conventional machining processes remain popular even after the introduction of CNC machining. That’s because conventional machining also has some advantages.


  • Conventional machines are easier to learn and don’t have complex processes. There is less time wastage once you learn how to use the machine.
  • Conventional machines do not have advanced technological or automated features. Hence, they are more cost-effective, as you won’t have to hire highly skilled staff with high salaries.
  • Conventional Machining has a lower initial investment cost than CNC machines. It is more affordable for start-ups, small workshops, and project start-ups.
  • Conventional machine operators can adjust the process in real-time. The operators can make changes swiftly by observation or unforeseen circumstances.
  • Parts that do not require complex capabilities are ideal for conventional machining. The process makes it possible to manufacture simple parts that do not require high-tech solutions.


  • Businesses require highly skilled and experienced personnel to produce high-quality products using conventional machining. Thus, training new workers becomes a massive cost for manufacturers.
  • When manufacturers use conventional machining processes, there is less consistency and precision. Even with the best tools, the operator’s skills and experience will determine the end product.  
  • Human intervention increases the chance of error due to fatigue, miscalculations, or misreadings.
  • Conventional machining is slower than C.N.C. machining, making it challenging to produce products on a large scale. It also involves many manual interventions that cause delays during processing.

Difference Between CNC and Conventional Machining

While CNC machining heavily relies on computer programs and technology, the operator’s skills are more critical in conventional machining. However, as shown in the table below, there are other differences between CNC and conventional machining.

CNC MachiningConventional Machining
The risk of human error is lower since the instructions are loaded into the CNC machine using software.The product’s quality is usually determined by a machine operator’s skills and abilities in conventional machining.
It’s easy to produce identical parts or components, making CNC machining ideal for high quantities.Due to human involvement, it’s hard to produce many identical parts.
CNC machining is more efficient and cost-effective for bigger jobs and more expensive for small jobs.Conventional Machining is cost-effective for small jobs.
One machine operator can oversee several CNC machines at once and still maintain high degrees of accuracy.Each machine must have one operator to direct it. Due to the level of human involvement needed, operating with two machines is impossible.

Which Process is Better CNC or Conventional Machining?


The CNC machining process has several advantages over conventional machining. However, both methods can deliver high-quality products. CNC machining is ideal for large projects requiring high consistency and quality levels. Automation of CNC machining reduces errors, providing accuracy and efficiency.

However, conventional machining involves shaping materials using tools such as lathes, grinders, and mills. The operators must manually direct the tools onto the workpieces to produce the desired shape. The process is prone to errors and challenging when producing many parts or components.


CNC machining requires experts to help you understand the processes. You can book a consultation with SANON CASTING for CNC machining services. You will get detailed information on CNC equipment and machining processes.

SANON CASTING also offers other casting and prototyping services as well.

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Eric Zhou

Focus on providing squeeze casting, aluminum die casting(hpdc+lpdc), mold making, CNC machining, and sheet metal fabrication solutions. If you need help, please feel free to contact us!

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G and M Codes for CNC Machining

Understanding G and M Codes for CNC Machining

CNC machining is the process of using programming code to automate machining tools. However, for that to happen, the machine must have the correct coded instructions, usually programmed. The g and m codes for cnc do this perfectly.

When you use the correct codes with the proper tooling, a CNC machine can perform repeatable functions accurately. G codes for CNC comprise a letter and two numbers: most are modal, meaning they remain active unless you make changes. The m code for CNC has the same structure: a letter and two numbers.

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