Manual Tool Changer vs. Automatic Tool Changer

By comparing manual tool changers (MTCs) and automatic tool changers (ATCs) used in CNC milling machines. MTCs are cheaper and simpler to operate, while ATCs offer greater efficiency and flexibility, but are more expensive.

CNC engraving machines are essential machines in the manufacturing industry, responsible for cutting, milling, and engraving various materials. A key aspect of CNC milling machines is the tool changer. In this article, we will discuss and compare two popular tool changers: the manual tool changer (MTC) and the automatic tool changer (ATC). We will explore their functions, features, and characteristics to help you better understand both types of tool changes.

Manual tool changer (MTC)

A manual tool changer is a system in which the operator manually changes the cutting tool or drills on the CNC milling machine spindle. The process involves pausing the machine, removing the tool, and then placing the new tool in the spindle chuck before resuming operation. MTCs are commonly found in entry-level and small CNC routers.

Advantages of the manual tool changed

MTCs are much cheaper than ATCs, which makes them easier for smaller workshops and hobbyists to use. On top of that, MTCs have fewer moving parts and systems, so there is less likelihood of mechanical failure or maintenance needs, and they are less difficult for novices to operate.

Automatic tool changer (ATC)

The automatic tool changer is a mechanized system integrated into the CNC milling machine that automatically changes cutting tools during machining. The ATC has a tool carousel or tool magazine that can store multiple cutting tools and can automatically change in or out of the spindle as needed.

Advantages of the automatic tool changed

The ATC significantly reduces the time required to change tools, and the entire process is automated by the machine, reducing manual intervention and producing consistent, high-quality parts. In addition, ATCs can accommodate multiple cutting tools, which increases flexibility and reduces setup time for machining operations. However, CNC machines with ATCs are usually more expensive.


Both manual and automatic tool changers have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice between MTC and ATC depends heavily on the specific requirements and budget of the application. Manual tool changes are a simpler and more affordable option, offering flexibility and manual control. Automatic tool changes offer greater efficiency, accuracy, and safety, although they require a higher initial investment and more complex maintenance. If cost is a major consideration and your operation does not require frequent tool changes, a manual tool changer may be sufficient. However, if productivity, accuracy and flexibility are your top priorities, then investing in an automatic tool changer can significantly improve the functionality and overall efficiency of your CNC milling machine.

Leave A Comment

All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required
Contact us now to get your exclusive plan

More than 8,000 our customers