Forty years ago, in the world of big corporate manufacturing, computers started making their way into the factories. Computer Numeric Controlled (or CNC) machines, that ran off a stack of punch cards with intricate patterns of holes punched into them, ran huge milling machines and lathes.
They were cumbersome but fast, and each machine cost more than a nice house.
Fortunately, for you, the home craftsman, those days are gone. It is now entirely possible, practical, and affordable to own your own CNC router, CNC mill, CNC lathe, CNC laser cutter, or CNC plasma cutter.
With only the most basic PC computer, a couple of hundred dollars worth of software, a similar investment in hardware and electronics, and your own ingenuity, YOU can have a CNC machine in your home workshop.
A CNC machine can be a great supplement to a hobby that you already have… like building model airplanes, model railroads, or woodworking. If you are into electronics, a small CNC router can etch and drill printed circuit boards. If you have kids at home, a CNC machine can be a terrific way to help them with science fair projects, robotics projects, or making arts and crafts projects.
CNC machines can cut or machine intricate detail, and do it very quickly. You've probably admired some of those intricate wall hangings that are cut with a jigsaw…. where the craftsman spent literally hundreds of hours drilling through the workpiece, detaching the saw blade, threading the blade through a hole, reattaching the blade, making the cut, and repeating the process. A CNC router can do the same work in a fraction of the time, and much more accurately.