Within the numerical systems of CNC programming it is possible for the code generator to assume that the controlled mechanism is always perfectly accurate, or that precision tolerances are identical for all cutting or movement directions. This is not always a true condition of CNC tools. CNC tools with a large amount of mechanical backlash can still be highly precise if the drive or cutting mechanism is only driven so as to apply cutting force from one direction, and all driving systems are pressed tightly together in that one cutting direction. However a CNC device with high backlash and a dull cutting tool can lead to cutter chatter and possible workpiece gouging. Backlash also affects precision of some operations involving axis movement reversals during cutting, such as the milling of a circle, where axis motion is sinusoidal. However, this can be compensated for if the amount of backlash is precisely known by linear encoders or manual measurement.

The high backlash mechanism itself is not necessarily relied on to be repeatedly precise for the cutting process, but some other reference object or precision surface may be used to zero the mechanism, by tightly applying pressure against the reference and setting that as the zero reference for all following CNC-encoded motions. This is similar to the manual machine tool method of clamping a micrometer onto a reference beam and adjusting the Vernier dial to zero using that object as the reference.[citation needed]

Positioning control system

In numerical control systems, the position of the tool is defined by a set of instructions called the part program.

Positioning control is handled by means of either an open loop or a closed loop system. In an open loop system, communication takes place in one direction only: from the controller to the motor. In a closed loop system, feedback is provided to the controller so that it can correct for errors in position, velocity, and acceleration, which can arise due to variations in load or temperature. Open loop systems are generally cheaper but less accurate. Stepper motors can be used in both types of systems, while servo motors can only be used in closed systems.

Cartesian Coordinates

The G & M code positions are all based on a three dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. This system is a typical plane often seen in mathematics when graphing. This system is required to map out the machine tool paths and any other kind of actions that need to happen in a specific coordinate. Absolute coordinates are what is generally used more commonly for machines and represent the (0,0,0) point on the plane. This point is set on the stock material in order to give a starting point or “home position” before starting the actual machining.