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    CNC Machining

    CNC Machining Precision Prototype and Production Parts

    Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a subtractive technique in which a computer program guides a cutting tool to remove material from a workpiece. The use of computer guidance enables precise and rapid production of even complex components. At HARBEC, we’ve maintained our tradition of excellence in manufacturing for almost 50 years, and we rely on CNC machining to deliver high-quality results for all of our clients.

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    CNC machine cutting metal in operation

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    What Is CNC Machining?

    CNC machining is the process of converting a CAD file or 3D model into instructions that can be used to create that component. The resulting CNC program allows the cutting machine to independently cut material into the desired shape with a high degree of accuracy and precision. At the same time as it increases part quality and consistency, CNC machining also decreases labor costs and material waste, making it a price-competitive process at almost any production volume. In addition, CNC machines can process almost any material, including metal, plastic, wood, and composites, among others.

    • How Does CNC Machining Work?

      As powerful and customizable as CNC machining is, it is also a relatively simple process. Once the computer loads a CNC program, written in G-code or M-code, the manufacturing process can be fully automated.

      To get to this point, the component’s designer first develops a CAD model of the desired component. CAM software reads this CAD file, checking it for errors before generating a CNC program. This program dictates the coordinates that the cutting head will traverse in crafting the physical component, as well as parameters like speed and RPM’s. CAM software also determines the most efficient orientation of the CAD design on the material block to minimize waste. The final CNC program conveys all of this information to the computer, which then controls the cutting head’s movements, so they align with the instructions.

    • What Are the Benefits of CNC Machining?

      CNC machining has many benefits over traditional manual manufacturing techniques. From a single program file, a CNC mill can produce anywhere from one component to several thousand, all of which conform to the exact specifications from the original 3D model. Additional advantages include:

      • Efficiency: CNC machines can run continuously with little to no intervention from human operators. This automation drastically increases productivity compared to manual methods, decreasing labor costs and freeing employees to focus on their areas of expertise.
      • Consistent Results: CNC machines can replicate their programmed design in any volume, with each iteration adhering to the same dimensions and precise tolerances. With no possibility for human error, CNC machining nearly eliminates variation between components, so it is an ideal choice for high-precision applications.
      • Reduced Costs: CNC machining is often the most economical choice for higher volume production runs. The machines can run with less personnel and produce less waste, reducing expenses on multiple levels.
      • Flexibility: CNC machines have flexible capabilities in that they can accommodate almost any material and geometry, but they also enable flexible production processes since they can be reprogrammed quickly and with minimal effort.
      • Advanced Capabilities: CNC machining enables more intricate designs than could easily be achieved manually. Automated processes like CNC are the best choice for highly complex components, especially those with fine details.


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    An infographic explaining the benefits of CNC machining

    HARBEC’s CNC Equipment & Capabilities

    HARBEC is equipped with cutting-edge software and equipment that allow us to achieve premium results.


    We use the following software to create high-resolution models and precise CNC programs:

    • KEYCREATOR (formerly CADKEY) 3D computer-aided design system
    • SOLIDWORKS 3D computer-aided design system
    • MASTERCAM suite of Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and CAD/CAM software applications

    Our team would be happy to answer any questions about our CAD and CAM capabilities as you begin the RFQ process.


    milling cnc machine at work.

    Our high-performance machining stations include:

    • 45 CNC machining centers, with 3-7 axis capability
    • 6 CNC turning centers
    • 1 CNC High-precision graphite machining center with dust extraction mechanism
    • 1 CNC EDM machine with automatic tool changer
    • Mitsubishi MV1200R Wire EDM
    • Mitsubishi MD Pro Wire EDM
    • 1 EDM hole popper
    • Complete precision grinding department
    • OR Eco 4600 Laser for micro welding of aluminum, steel, and titanium
    • 2 Nordson EFD Pro Plus 4 – Form in Place Gasket Machines

    We also have capabilities beyond CNC machining, including 3D printing for rapid prototyping and lower-volume production runs. To learn how these and other capabilities complement our CNC offerings, see our page on additive manufacturing.

    • CNC Machining Materials

      We have experience machining an array of metals and non-metals. Popular options include the following.


      • Alloy Steels
      • Aluminum
      • Brass
      • Bronze Alloys
      • Carbon Steel
      • Cobalt
      • Copper
      • Inconel
      • Invar
      • Iridium
      • Iron
      • Kovars
      • Magnesium
      • Molybdenum
      • Monel
      • Nickel
      • Platinum
      • Silver
      • Stainless Steel
      • Superalloys
      • Tin
      • Titanium
      • Tungsten
      • Zinc

      Plastic and Other Non-Metallic Materials

      • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
      • Acetal
      • Acrylic
      • Composite Materials
      • Graphite
      • Nylon
      • Phenolic
      • Polyamide-Imide
      • Polycarbonate
      • Polyester
      • Polyetheretherketone (PEEK)
      • Polyetherimide
      • Polyethylene
      • Polyphenylene Sulfide
      • Polypropylene
      • Polystyrene
      • Polysulphone
      • PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene)
      • Teflon

    • Mold Making and Mold Maintenance

      HARBEC has a long history of building and maintaining high precision production tooling, and lower volume prototype tooling, to meet our customer’s needs.  Our fully equipped mold shop partnered with our engineering team can take your project from design to production, and our skilled maintenance team will keep your tools running in top condition for many years. 

      Our mold making team utilizes many of the machines listed in our capabilities list to produce tooling components whether it be through CNC machining, wire EDM, sinker EDM, grinding, and polishing.  Our mold maintenance team is fully outfitted with its own CNC machine, Bridgeport, and manual lathe to perform tool repairs when needed, as well as ultrasonic cleaning and polishing equipment to keep our tools running like new.  Our in house micro laser welder also helps reduce down time on tool repairs since we can keep the work in house and turn around repairs in hours instead of days.    

    • HARBEC’s Secondary Services

      HARBEC strives to be a full-service partner for our clients, so we offer a full suite of secondary services to ensure the product we ship meets all production requirements. Our secondary service offerings include:

      • Assembly
      • Form-in-Place gasketing (FIP)
      • Gun drilling
      • Broaching
      • Pressing
      • Plating (including nickel plating magnesium)

    Partner With HARBEC

    HARBEC’s roots in CNC machining run deep. Founded in 1977 as a general-purpose machine shop, we initially specialized in the quick turnaround of difficult-to-make parts. Today, we operate more than 40 vertical mills (ranging from 3 to 7-axis models), 6 turning centers, and multiple EDM centers on three shifts. With this equipment, we produce low to high volumes of high-precision parts serving customers worldwide. Our team readily works with customers to improve the manufacturability of prototypes and production parts, always striving for the best balance of function, cost, and delivery.

    HARBEC has a commitment to continuously improve our operational excellence through innovation while providing manufacturing solutions for our customers. We continually update and renew our equipment offerings to better serve our clients. As part of our most recent CNC milling expansion, we’ve acquired dedicated milling centers for difficult-to-machine metals such as titanium to a .01″ diameter end mill.

    In addition, we maintain compliance with the most rigorous industrial quality standards, with certifications including:

    • AS9100
    • ISO 13485
    • ISO 50001 SEP
    • ISO 9001:2015
    • ISO 14001:2004
    • ITAR

    We proudly create components for the following industries:

    To discover how we craft precision CNC-milled components for these and other industries, contact HARBEC to learn about partnership opportunities.

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    The Aviation Industry is highly regulated with demands and controls that ensure the safety and reliability of equipment and materials. Our aviation, space and defense customers can be confident that HARBEC retains a certified Quality Management System which is well implemented and designed to deliver increased customer satisfaction as a natural by-product of tracking key quality goals of on-time delivery and compliant product to our customers. Our processes are monitored to improve efficiency, ensure product safety and reliability while continually improving.

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    The Medical Industry is highly regulated with demands and controls that ensure regulatory requirements and customer expectations are met. Our medical device customers can be confident that HARBEC retains a certified Quality Management System which is well implemented and designed to deliver increased customer satisfaction as a natural by-product of tracking key quality goals of on-time delivery and compliant product to our customers. Our ISO 13485 management system adopts a risk management approach which, while having these controls in place, eliminates hazardous situations throughout the product realization process.

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    HARBEC is a registered ITAR company. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of United States Government regulations on the export and import of defense related articles and services. Our Defense and Military customers can have complete confidence that HARBEC has an established and implemented ITAR compliance program and adhere to the strict guidelines set forth by ITAR and EAR statutes.

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