Five CNC machining trends for 2021 


Even though we are nearly at the halfway point of 2021, it is never too late to look at trends for this year. For example, it is rather trendy at the moment to use a 3D printing service in order to create prototypes or even products. In CNC machining, there are also a lot of trends going on nowadays. Some of these are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which still impacts our lives on a daily basis. Below you can find five Computer Numerical Control machining trends for 2021. 

5-axis and 6-axis CNC machining

Factories have started to use 5-axis machines more and more, which is especially the case since they are very cost-effective. These machines have a great ability to rotate around the X and Y axes seamlessly, which makes them so popular. However, the 6-axis machine emerged a few years ago and added another rotation around the Z-axis. Because of this, they improved when it comes to speed and efficiency. This results in faster cut times and more products created in a shorter timespan. In fact, a 6-axis CNC milling machine can decrease cutting time by up to 75 percent. 


MaaS is the abbreviation of Manufacturing as a Service and has moved into the CNC industry over the past couple of years. It will continue to grow in 2021, as you can nowadays easily employ a CNC service. Doing this is a good idea as MaaS has a few benefits. For example, companies can save expenses by employing Manufacturing as a Service, while they can be more agile and productive too. COVID-19’s impact will motivate businesses to find more supply chain networks, which is possible via MaaS. After all, companies want to avoid the supply chain disruption that happened during the pandemic.

Digital twins

Digital twins will become more common in 2021 too. Last year, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division already released enhanced NC Simul Software. This virtually builds a digital twin, which enables the real-life machine to avoid errors and decrease setup times. The new enhancement provides machinists the ability to identify and avoid the 5-axis singularity point. Because of this, they can optimize the NC programming. Before, this was not possible, but thankfully it is nowadays due to the digital twin. This is important as it is essential to avoid the 5-axis singularity point when 3D printing a product with a smooth surface. 


Due to the pandemic, IoT use has accelerated. It is employed to monitor a machine remotely, while sensors are used too in order to evaluate what the lifecycle of the equipment looks like. This became even more important in COVID-19 times. The application of the sensors has been extended too. They can now be applied to drill presses, lathes, milling machines, turning machines, et cetera. These sensors provide a lot of information which can then be used to facilitate predictive maintenance. IoT sensors might be even more useful when 5G makes its way into manufacturing plants.

Robots and cobots

Furthermore, there will be more robots and cobots on the machine shop floor in 2021. Cobots are collaborative robots, by the way. In the past they have already been used in CNC machining together with robots, but in the future they will play an even more important role in this field. Cobots will become more popular as they are very versatile and effective, while they are also specifically developed to work with humans. The collaborative robots will be able to accomplish even more in the coming years as machine learning continues to improve and grow. 

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