Explain CNC Coordinates

Coordinate Metrology - Technology and Application

All the positions and motions of a computer numerical control (CNC) machine are understood in terms of numbers. Numbers describe the shape of the work piece, the movement of the cutting tool, the depth and speed of the cut, etc.

How exactly are numbers used in this way? The common system used to describe location is called the Cartesian coordinate system, which consists of a cubic grid of imaginary lines. The Cartesian system defines the location of a single point in three-dimensional space using three axes, which are shown in Figure 1. These axes are called the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis, and each one indicate a particular direction.

An axis is an imaginary straight line. In the Cartesian system, the X-, Y-, and Z-axes meet at right angles. In other words, they join together like the corner of a box, as shown in Figure 2.


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