A Glimpse into CNC Inserts' Past: The History that Shaped It

A Glimpse into CNC Inserts' Past: The History that Shaped It


CNC inserts are an essential component in the manufacturing industry today. They are used in various applications to create high-quality products that meet the growing demands of customers. However, little is known about the history of CNC inserts, which is why this blog post will delve into the past to explore the origins of CNC inserts and the various factors that have shaped their development over the years.

The Early Days of CNC Inserts

The history of CNC inserts can be traced back to the late 1940s when John T. Parsons and Frank L. Stulen developed the first numerical control (NC) machine. The NC machine was invented to solve the problem of producing complex aircraft parts that were difficult to manufacture using conventional methods. The first NC machine used punch cards to control its movements, and it was not until the 1950s that computer programs were used to control the machine's movements.

In the early days, CNC inserts were made from high-speed steel (HSS). However, HSS inserts were not durable enough to withstand the high temperatures and cutting forces generated during machining operations. As a result, the search for a more durable material led to the development of carbide inserts.

The Rise of Carbide Inserts

Carbide inserts were first developed in the early 1950s by the General Electric Company. The initial carbide inserts were made from tungsten carbide and cobalt, which gave them high wear resistance and toughness. The new carbide inserts quickly became popular in the manufacturing industry due to their durability and ability to withstand high cutting forces and temperatures.

In the 1970s, the development of coated carbide inserts further improved their performance. The coatings, such as titanium nitride (TiN), improved the wear resistance and reduced the friction between the insert and the workpiece, resulting in better surface finishes and longer tool life.

Advancements in CNC Insert Technology

The 1980s saw significant advancements in CNC insert technology. The introduction of indexable inserts, which could be rotated to provide a fresh cutting edge, revolutionized the manufacturing industry. Indexable inserts allowed for faster machining and reduced downtime, as operators did not need to change the entire tool but only the insert.

In the 1990s, the development of polycrystalline diamond (PCD) inserts further improved the performance of CNC inserts. PCD inserts are made by sintering diamond particles with a metallic binder. They have high wear resistance and are used in applications where high cutting speeds and precision are required.

Today, CNC inserts continue to evolve, with new materials and coatings being developed to improve their performance and durability. Inserts made from ceramics, for example, are now available and are used in applications where high-speed cutting and high-temperature resistance are required.


In conclusion, the history of CNC inserts is a fascinating one that spans several decades. The development of CNC inserts has been shaped by various factors, including the need for more durable materials, advancements in technology, and the growing demands of customers. Today, CNC inserts are an essential component in the manufacturing industry, and their continued development will undoubtedly shape the industry's future.

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