Numerical control (NC) is the automation of machine tools that are operated by precisely programmed commands encoded on a storage medium, as opposed to controlled manually via hand wheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone. Most NC today is computer numerical control (CNC), in which computers play an integral part of the control.

In modern CNC systems, end-to-end component design is highly automated using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs. The programs produce a computer file that is interpreted to extract the commands needed to operate a particular machine via a post processor, and then loaded into the CNC machines for production. Since any particular component might require the use of a number of different tools – drills, saws, etc., modern machines often combine multiple tools into a single "cell". 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 design.

Job Description for CNC Lathe Operators-

The occupation entails monitoring and operating CNC (computer numerically controlled) lathe machines to cut metal and plastic parts for the manufacturing industry. After a CNC programmer develops instructions for a computer controller based on blueprints, a set-up CNC operator downloads the program and performs test operations to ensure the product is made to specifications. A CNC lathe operator then takes over production, running the machine and monitoring it for problems.