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In modern CNC systems, the design of a mechanical part and its manufacturing program is highly automated. In other installations, a number of different machines are used with an external controller and human or robotic operators that move the component from machine to machine. In either case, the series of steps needed to produce any part is highly automated and produces a part that closely matches the original CAD. As the controller hardware evolved, the mills themselves also evolved. One change has been to enclose the entire mechanism in a large box as a safety measure, often with additional safety interlocks to ensure the operator is far enough from the working piece for safe operation. CNC-like systems are now used for any process that can be described as a series of movements and operations.
Functions include: face milling, shoulder milling, tapping, drilling and some even offer turning. Today, CNC mills can have 3 to 6 axes. Cut workpieces while they are rotated. Effective for complicated programs designed to make parts that would be infeasible to make on manual lathes. Commonly used to cut steel and other metals, but can be used on a variety of materials.