numerical control

views updated Jun 11 2018

numerical control The application of digital computer techniques to the control of a manufacturing process. The concept has been applied primarily to various kinds of machine tools such as milling machines, metal-cutting lathes, welding machines, and some specialized machines. The machines are controlled by numerical specification of parameters such as position, where the numbers are usually calculated beforehand (offline) by a computer and recorded on a medium such as punched paper tape. If the computer is directly connected for online control, the technique is called computer numerical control (CNC). See also computer-aided manufacturing, computer-integrated manufacturing.