Choosing the Right CNC Programming

The basic functionality of a CNC is enabling your machine tools to achieve automated, precise control. To achieve this, your CNC requires detailed programming instructions to know how to run properly, but with three programming styles to choose from, how do you decide when you’re choosing the right CNC programming? Each type has pros and cons for you to weigh to help you make your decision. Manual Programming With the need for in-depth calculations and verifications with any automated aids, manual programming requires having well trained employees on staff. The programming must be in the same language that the CNC machine will use to execute the instructions, creating a chain of command that makes the machine run properly. The “old school” method of programming, the manual option is still used regularly throughout the manufacturing industry and has been modernized by using fixed or repetitive machine cycles, variable types, and graphic tool motion simulation.


  • Optimizes machine utilization enhancement and cycle time reduction
  • Achieves the highest level of CNC machine intimacy possible
  • Unlimited freedom in part program development
  • Outputs more efficiently than many CAM systems


  • Time consuming
  • Increased human error
  • Requires CNC programmer
  • Worker shortage at this level of programming

Conversational Programming Geared towards entry-level operators, conversational programming features a wizard-mode that can either hide G-code or bypass its usage. This makes it possible for operators to easily create part programs in a short span of time. Essentially this method is input-only and the machine takes care of the details. Best suited for simple parts that take 30 minutes or less to generate, conversational programming works best when the machine is in setup mode as it slows running production down.


  • Easy to learn and use
  • No G-code
  • Shortened setup and programming times
  • Reduced errors and scrap
  • More cost-effective than CAM


  • Limited capabilities
  • Cannot support complex tool paths
  • Less flexible than CAM

CAM System Programming As the price of CAM systems continues to go down, more machine shops are utilizing this method of programming as a way to manage the skilled worker shortage. While the CAM system does still require the operator to input basic information, it also automatically generates the G-code language responsible for controlling the CNC, making it the most user-independent form of programming. CAM system is especially handy in situation where the operator has several different types of machine models to program and needs to keep the various languages straight.


  • Doesn’t require detailed math calculations
  • Uses automation to boost output
  • Reduces machine crashing due to programming errors


  • Still requires basic programming knowledge
  • Operator does not have total control over the machining process
  • Output less effective than manual techniques

Whichever programming method you choose for your manufacturing business, Inora is here to help you keep your CNC and all of your machine tools running smoothly and efficiently. Using our patented Math Engine technology, we offer several software options that will check and calibrate all of your machines with virtually no human error.


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