What Does DNC Stand for in Machining?

A CNC programmer on the shop floor pulls up a program on his CNC machine via a DNC network.

At its most elementary, DNC stands for Distributive Numerical Control in machining. Also known as Direct Numerical Control, DNC technology allows one single computer to be networked with multiple machines to create a faster, more cohesive, and productive shop floor ecosystem. But that definition is just the beginning of what DNC means for industrial and manufacturing professionals and processes. More than running a program from a computer to a machine, DNC should be understood as a process in order to reap the greatest rewards.

The Three “Components” of DNC


The Machine

A CNC machine is responsible for processing a piece of material to meet specifications. It follows a set of instructions in the form of a coded program to do so. These machines can take the form of lathes, routers, welders, grinders, lasers, waterjet cutters, stamping machines, robots, and more. They build the things we use every day and can include just about any computer-controlled machine. With powerful DNC software, some of these machines can even communicate back to the computer, providing data that the software and engineers can use to make processes more efficient and faster.

The Computer

If the machines are the limbs, the computer acts as the brain for a networked shop floor. Holding the coded instructions and using the DNC software, the computer will send instructions to the machines it controls. Providing a high degree of accuracy, many of these systems are capable of interacting with your shop floor in unique ways. Using DNC software, computers can decrease the amount of communication required between itself and each tool it controls.

The Computer Link Connecting Them

The connection between the two above components allows the computer and multiple machines to be in constant and direct contact with each other. While some machines are connected via RS232 serial cables, many newer machines are often connected via Ethernet or Cat 5 cables.


The Functions of DNC Systems

Now that we know what DNC means and what it is, we can better understand why it is so crucial to the way we manufacture and produce goods today. The main functions of DNC systems are as follows:

  • A way for computers to store and edit programs for every machine tool connected in the network.
  • For on-demand delivery of stored programs to the connected machines
  • To process part programs written in higher-level languages, such as APT.
  • To combine CAD with CAM through a common, shared database.
  • And to provide a link between the central computer and others spread across multiple facilities through modems and networks, even when located miles away.


Understanding DNC with Shop Floor Automations

Shop Floor Automations is dedicated to providing you with the best possible level of service and support when it comes to your machine monitoring needs. If you are searching for a particular product or solution, or simply want to work with an expert to create further improvements to your shop floor processes, we are here for you.

Contact our team today to get started on your most efficient and powerful shop floor.