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Name : B. Balaji
Designation : HOD
Branch : Electronics & Instrumentation
Institute : Govt. Polytechnic for Minorities, Guntur.
Year/Semester : V - Semester
Subject : Process Control
Sub. Code : AEI - 504
Topic : CNC Machine
Duration : 100 min
Sub Topic : Definition and block diagram of CNC
Teaching Aids : Diagrams
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On completion of this topic, you would be able

to know about

• What is a CNC machine

• Advantages and disadvantages of CNC

• Block diagram of CNC

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What is a CNC machine ?

• Computer numerical control (CNC) is the control of a

machine tool using numbers and letters.

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• It is a system in which programmed numerical values are
directly inserted and stored on some form of input
medium and automatically read and decoded to cause a
corresponding movement in the machine which it is

• CNC is also called soft-wired NC.

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• High degree of quality due to accuracy, repeatability, and
freedom from operator-introduced variations.

• Reduced scrap: Errors due to operator fatigue,

interruptions, and other factors are less likely to occur.

• Simplified inspection: Once the first piece has passed

inspection, minimal inspection is required on subsequent

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• Lower tooling costs due to less need for complex jigs
and fixtures.

• Reduced lead time.

• Complex machining operations are more easily

accomplished due to advanced machine control.

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• Tools on CNC machines do not cut metal as faster than

conventional machines.

• CNC does not eliminate the need for expensive tools.

There is also a greater initial cost involved with the
CNC machine.

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• CNC will not totally eliminate errors. Operators can still
fail to push the correct buttons, make incorrect
alignments, and fail to locate parts properly in a fixture.

• Selection and training of programmers and maintenance

personnel is required.

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Block diagram of CNC

• The following are the elements of CNC:

• Input unit

• Control unit

• Memory unit

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• Arithmetic unit

• Output unit

• Operator interface and machine interface

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Block Diagram of CNC machine
Control unit

Memory Output
Input unit

Arithmetic unit

Operator and machine

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Input unit

• It receives all the commands from operator interface and


• All the input signals are compatible by input unit to be

understood by control unit .

• When no. of inputs are many , multiplexing technique is

used .

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Control unit

• It takes instructions from the memory unit and interprets

them one at a time and processes information received
from the operator and machine interface.

• The information is interpreted and manipulated with

hardware logic and computer programs .

• It sends appropriate instructions to other units to cause

instruction execution .

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• It sends appropriate instructions to other units to cause
instruction execution.

• It turns ON and OFF machine outputs and controls

machine motion via machine interface.

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Memory unit

• It stores instructions and data received from the input

and also stores the results of arithmetic operations and
supplies information to output unit.

• The size of the programs and space required to

manipulate data determine the amount of memory
required .

• Fixed programs are stored on ROM which stores

information permanently.

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Arithmetic unit

• It performs calculations and make decisions and results

are stored in the in the memory unit.

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Output unit

• It receives the data from the memory and these signals

are made compatible with output devices , so that
commands issued by output unit can be obeyed by

• Digital signals are first converted to analog form to

control servo motors .

• Output signals are used to turn ON and OFF devices,

display information , position axes etc.

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Operator interface

• Punched tape is most commonly used input system for


• CRT, LEDS and plasma displays are used for displaying


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Machine interface

• It consists of all devices used to monitor and control

machine tool like extreme travel limit switches,

miscellaneous position location, solenoids for hydraulic

and air control, control valves, servo mechanisms etc.

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In this period, you have learnt about

• The following elements of CNC are discussed

• Input unit
• Control unit
• Memory unit
• Arithmetic unit
• Output unit
• Operator interface & Machine interface

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1. CNC comes under the category of

a) Hard-wired NC

c) Soft-wired NC

e) None of the above

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Frequently asked Questions

1. Define CNC

3. Draw and explain block diagram of CNC

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• List the advantages and disadvantages of CNC.

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