6 interesting applications of CNC machining

There’s no question that Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining has revolutionised manufacturing processes across the board. But when you think of CNC machines, you might think of their more conventional uses.


Industrial valves and fittings, machine components and tools are all popular products of CNC machining’s precision and accuracy. And while these are essential, CNC machining is capable of so much more — more than you might expect.


So, let’s examine six interesting applications of precision CNC machining and how they have revolutionised manufacturing in surprising ways.



Have you ever wondered how smartphones were made?


Well, many big-name manufacturers employ CNC machines to make smartphone components, including aluminium frames, glass screens and durable exteriors.


When millions of phones need to be made each day to meet tight deadlines and high demand, it’s important that the manufacturing processes are as quick, easy and repeatable as possible. CNC milling and laser cutting machines are perfect for this as they can achieve smooth edges and intricate details with consistency across batches, ensuring optimal production rates.


While many leading companies have switched from plastic to aluminium for a tougher, sleeker exterior, plenty of companies still prefer plastic casings. But this is no problem — especially since CNC machines are compatible with different metals and plastics, which makes them ideal for a range of phones on the market.


A metal phone frame crafted with precision CNC machining.



CNC machining has helped advance the medical industry significantly over the years. Thanks to its precision and compatibility with medical-grade materials, it’s become a go-to process for making surgical instruments, orthopaedic implants and dental tools.


But one of the most fascinating uses of CNC machining in the medical industry must be prosthetics.


The use of precision machining allows prosthetics to be designed, crafted, and customised to meet specific needs. This means that those wearing the prosthetic can experience better comfort and functionality.


Prosthetics typically start with a scan that provides the correct measurements and configurations. The scan is then converted into a digital model, programmed into the machines, and manufactured with the appropriate details — even for prosthetics with intricate shapes and complex geometries.

Art and sculptures


You probably didn’t expect CNC machining to have an artistic side, did you?


Yet CNC machines continue to prove their versatility day in and day out, impressing experts in every industry — even in the art world.


A range of artists and sculptors have started incorporating CNC machines into their work and processes. Chris Bathgate, for example, uses small CNC mills and small CNC lathes to create fascinating sculptures from various metals.


CNC art and sculpting are fantastic ways for artists to explore different mediums using materials like aluminium, copper, bronze, and wood. Artists can create art quickly and easily, creating seamless shapes and detailed designs on large scales. Without any of the errors that hand-sculpting can cause, artists are able to cut labour and material costs.



In February, Intuitive’s lunar lander, Odysseus, successfully landed on the moon. This marked the United States’ first lunar landing in 50 years, which is more than one small step for the aerospace industry and one giant leap for precision CNC machining.


When crafting Odysseus, Xometry lent a hand with its CNC machined parts. These included CNC machined spool fittings, which helped fasten the lander’s carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb sandwich panels by creating a thread point for screws, and CNC machined landing gears designed to touch the lunar surface.


But this isn’t the only instance of CNC machines helping the aerospace industry. Thanks to their ability to produce durable and lightweight complex geometries, CNC machining services can create not only space shuttle components and satellite parts but also aircraft frames, jet engine parts and electrical components.


A satellite photographed in space.



When people think of CNC machines and precision engineering, they don’t often think of jewellery — but it turns out that a range of pendants, bracelets and earrings can be crafted with CNC machines like laser cutters.


CNC machines increase jewellery production rates, improve accuracy and precision, and limit physical labour. Metals like gold, silver, and titanium, as well as unique options like wood, can also be used.


CNC machines also let jewellers add intricate detailing and implement custom patterns and engravings with consistency across pieces. They can also polish the jewellery and ensure smooth surface finishes for aesthetic value.

Motorsports parts


Thanks to its accuracy, versatility and compatibility with various materials, precision CNC machining is a fantastic option for manufacturing a variety of automotive parts.


One sector that has particularly benefitted from CNC machining is the motorsports sector. A whole host of racing vehicles, from Formula One (F1) to NASCAR, have been built from parts made with CNC machines. This is because CNC machining offers an efficient process for creating prototypes and test pieces that consistently meet the necessary standards and requirements.


Motorsports teams use Computer-Aided Design software (CAD), a tool that allows the creation of 2D and 3D models before the CNC machining process. The most common machines are CNC lathes, CNC milling machines, and CNC turning machines. These machines permit the production of rotationally symmetrical parts, such as wheel hubs, pistons, and smooth cylinder head ports.


If you want to learn more about CNC machining in performance motorsports, look at our article here.


A Formula One car in the garage with engineers working on it.

CNC machining: the king of versatility


It’s no secret that CNC machines are compatible with a wealth of materials — metals, plastics, even wood. But what is less known is just how many applications they have. This article covers six less apparent uses, from lunar landers to art pieces, as a testament to the technology’s versatility.


While you may not be looking to create the next Venus de Milo, having a CNC machine in your manufacturing arsenal will be an incredibly valuable asset for whatever project you’re planning.

Supporting UK businesses


Are you looking for support with your project? Sheldon Precision is here to help. With a full CNC manufacturing facility, we provide a premium service to exact customer specifications.


Contact us today for more information.