Importance of CNC Machining in the Aerospace Industry

Table of Contents

Generally speaking, a substantial number of industries rely on CNC machining. As it provides mechanization and yields a variety of mass-produce customized and complex products and parts. These parts offer high precision and efficiency. CNC machining uses a computer for automation and makes the use of machining tools (like drills, lathes, mills, etc.) and 3D printers through numerical control.

The global aerospace industry is expected to expand $774.54 billion in 2021 at CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.2%. This industry evolved over the years with innovation and revolution in technology played a vital role in its rapid advancement. While designing and manufacturing different components of aircraft, missiles, rockets, or spacecraft, one thing that is of paramount importance for us that is safety.

When we work on any commercial, military, or aerospace-associated projects, our team of highly motivated and skilled professionals makes sure utmost accuracy, accountability, and efficiency in designing and manufacturing different parts. As there is no chance of a single error or malfunction in the production at all. Even the tiniest imperfection may result in disastrous outcomes. Therefore, we as a CNC machining workshop follow internationally recognized aerospaceAS9100 standards.

First, have a look at what CNC machining is and how it works? And then we’ll elaborate on the role of CNC machining in the aerospace industry.

CNC Machining used in Aerospace Industry

What is CNC Machining & How it Works

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process, in which a piece of material is converted into a custom-designed product. It is done using coded programmed instructions and different machine tools.

This subtractive cutting technology provides the most complex designs to be manufactured at a mass-scale with high precision and a faster rate. CNC machining enables mechanization and automation simple and easy. The process is controlled by computer-coded programmed instructions that reduce the room for errors which in some cases can be extremely devastating.

CNC Machining Workflow

CNC machining was initially numerical control (NC) only that used punched tape cards. But, after introducing computers into the process that now has become computer numerical control (CNC). It makes the use of computer control instructions to operate and process a stock material into customized parts by manipulating machines and different cutting tools.

The basic CNC machining workflow can be divided into four main steps.

  • Designing CAD
  • Generating CAM Code
  • Machine Setup
  • Performing Machining Operation

First of all, we carefully design a highly intelligent design using software called CAD. Secondly, we create instructions according to the design that describes how to carve it. This process is called CAM. Then, the machine is being set up. In the end, we hand these instructions over to the machine and this is normally done with a digital interface. When these steps are completed, then we hit the start button and the machine cuts the design out.

Let’s discover each step thoroughly

Designing CAD

CAD stands for computer-aided design. It is software that we use to create a 2D vector or 3D solid part CAD design. With this software, we create a model of your required part or product with the most accurate technical specifications. Once, your design is created then our designer exports the file into STEP or IGES (these are CNC-supported file formats).

Generating CAM Code

At this step, we convert the CAD design file into a programming code using CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software. Which then dictates the CNC machine and different tools to produce your product.

Programming languages used in the CNC machining process include G-code and M-code. The language that controls and instructs the movement of machine tools to attain the desired shape is called G-code (G-code stands for general or geometric code). M-code stands for miscellaneous code. It controls miscellaneous machine actions that include starting and stopping any particular actions or programs during the machining process.

Once we generate the CAM code then it is transferred to the machine.

Machine Setup

Before we start operating the CNC machine, we set the machine up for proper working. We fix the workpiece into the right place and attach the required tools. These tools include drill bits and others for accurate and efficient product outcomes.

Performing Machining Action

CAM generated G-code and M-code programming instructions being integrated through a computer to guide the machine and tools. These codes tell the machine and tools when and how to execute specific machining actions. When the computer passes all the programming codes and machine executes them accordingly. In this way, you can get your mass-produced complex parts.

Why CNC Machining is Important for Aerospace Industry?

As the aerospace industry is growing at a rapid pace. The demands of complex designs, exceptional performance, and quality of the aircraft are sky-high. Defense contractors and market competition have made the development and production cycles indispensably short. The average manufacturing cost of the products is constantly reduced that drastically increased the manufacturing requirements for the aerospace industry. All these demands can be met using Modern CNC machining technology.

The national defense and economic strength of a country can be measured from the size of its aerospace industry. CNC machining technology plays a vital role in the manufacturing of mass-production, high-precision, and most efficient aerospace parts. It is considered the backbone of the modern aerospace industry. The gigantic flying machines consist of millions of components. These are manufactured using many different methods including CNC machining and 3D printing.

How CNC Machining is Used in the Aerospace Industry

CNC machining is used in the aerospace industry for a variety of applications. It is used to create structural components, such as frames, bulkheads, and fairings. CNC machining is also used to produce precision parts like gears and engine mounts. These parts must be made with high accuracy in order to ensure safe operation of aircraft.

CNC machining is also used for rapid prototyping, allowing companies to create prototype parts quickly and cost-effectively. This allows aerospace engineers to test out new designs before committing to large production runs. CNC machining can also be used to correct errors in existing designs and make modifications as needed.

Another important use of CNC machining in the aerospace industry is the production of tooling and fixtures. These are used to support aircraft maintenance and repair operations. They must be high-quality, as they play an important role in keeping aircraft safe and reliable.

CNC technology has revolutionized the aerospace industry by allowing for faster prototyping and more precise parts manufacturing. It has enabled manufacturers to produce complex parts in shorter time frames and at lower costs, while also ensuring quality and safety. By combining CNC technology with advanced materials and processes, aerospace companies can stay ahead of the competition and deliver superior products to their customers.

stainless steel machining
stainless steel machining

The Benefits of CNC machining in the Aerospace Industry

High Precision and Faster Mass-Production

As the lives of millions of people depend on the aerospace industry in the form of air travel. Most important, countries’ defense solely relies on CNC machining, so there is zero room for error in the manufacturing. Computer numerical control machining process can provide error-free parts at faster rates than any manual production.

Efficient Machining Tools 

With 5-axis CNC machining technology, you can create any complex design required anywhere in the aerospace industry. Prior to 3-axis technology, it was a bit difficult to perform machining action on some complex shapes and required more time. But 5-axis machining had made every design become a reality and time-saving. 

Design Specifications

The technological advancements in the CNC machining process provide the ability to work with typically any material and specifications as well. With CAM code generated of every design with any specifications can be precisely manufactured. With CNC, we can re-manufacture the same parts easily at faster rates. That is very helpful in the aerospace industry as these parts can be used in many alike flying machines and as replacement parts too.

Potential Challenges with CNC Machining in the Aerospace Industry

While CNC machining is a powerful tool for the aerospace industry, it can also present some challenges. One of the biggest issues is cost. CNC machining requires specialized equipment and personnel, which can drive up cost significantly. Additionally, CNC machines require continuous maintenance and calibration to ensure their accuracy and performance.

Another challenge is the complexity of CNC machining. Large, complex parts can be difficult to program and require extensive expertise in order to achieve desired results. Additionally, certain materials may not be suitable for use in CNC machines, which can limit the scope of projects that are possible.

Finally, CNC machining requires a great deal of precision, which can make it difficult to adjust parts if the initial design is flawed. This means that any errors in the programming or design phase can be difficult to rectify later on.

Despite these challenges, CNC machining remains an invaluable tool for the aerospace industry. With careful planning and attention to detail, companies can use this technology to produce high-quality parts and components quickly and cost-effectively.

3 Most Common Metals Used in Aerospace Industry

In the past, most of the material used in the manufacturing of aircraft was wood mostly. Because wood is a significantly lightweight material and at the same time, it is strong enough to bear the load of the whole aircraft engine. Wright brothers made their first airplane in 1903 by making the use of bamboo and spruce mostly.

But with the advancement and innovation of years, enabled us to make use of metal in the aerospace industry. The first aircraft built in 1915 using metal completely. This idea was practically implemented by aircraft designer Hugo Junkers. He made use of aluminum alloys in the manufacturing.

Since then, the aerospace industry has become obligatory for nations’ defense and the backbone of their economy. With the advancement over time, the aerospace industry keeps on evolving and discovered excellent technologies and materials. These help to build hefty and gigantic flying machines.

Here are some of the most commonly used metals in the aerospace industry.

1: Aluminum

Aluminum is the most used metal yet in the aerospace industry because of its many exceptional properties. Like it is lightweight as compared to other metals. It helps in fuel efficiency, thus aircraft can bear more weight. Aluminum and its alloys offer strength and corrosion-resistance properties. It makes aluminum a preferable material for machinery and engine components. and in my workshop, aluminum is the most often used material here. check here to see the parts we made.

2: Titanium

Titanium is a good material used in the aerospace industry. It has properties like high strength, low density, and corrosion-resistance. Titanium is comparatively heavier than aluminum but twice stronger. Therefore, it is used in aircraft structural frames, different engine components, and hydraulic systems.

3: Tungsten

Tungsten and its alloys help greatly in aerospace manufacturing. These ensure balance and minimize vibrations in the different components. Tungsten is very helpful in maintaining the balance of components which is very crucial for the safety and stability of the whole machine.

The mass-production, high-precision, and most efficient parts manufactured using CNC are of immense importance for the aerospace industry. Other than this, CNC machining plays an important role in R&D (Research and Development) and opening new ways towards further innovation.

We are an advanced CNC machining workshop in China. We provide premium quality machining services. Our team of extremely skilled and hardworking professionals makes sure to deliver you high-quality work. Contact us or request a quote for your aerospace system needs.


Q: How is CNC machining used for in the aerospace industry?

A: CNC machining is used in the aerospace industry to create structural components, precision parts, and tooling and fixtures. It can also be used for rapid prototyping and correcting errors in existing designs.

Q: What are the benefits of CNC machining in the aerospace sector?

A: The benefits of CNC machining in the aerospace sector include faster prototyping, improved accuracy and precision, and increased cost savings.

Q: Are there any alternatives to CNC machining in the aerospace sector?

A: Yes, there are other manufacturing processes available for use in the aerospace industry. These include additive manufacturing, injection molding, and casting. Each process has its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the application, one or more of these processes may be suitable for the task at hand.

Q: Is CNC machining a reliable tool for the aerospace industry?

A: Yes, when used correctly and with proper maintenance, CNC machining is a reliable tool for the aerospace industry. It can create high-quality parts and components quickly and cost-effectively.

Q: What is the future of CNC machining in the aerospace industry?

A: The future of CNC machining in the aerospace industry looks promising. As companies continue to realize its benefits, CNC machining will remain an integral part of the manufacturing process for years to come.

Cora Feng
Cora Feng

Hi, I'm a CNC Machining Expert for more than 12 years.  We are one of the most accessible and trustworthy machining suppliers in China.

If you want to learn more of our machining service, please feel free to ask me any questions.

Request A Free Quote

We make sure all your emails will be replied within 6hours. thanks!