Presented in the paper is a new approach to 3-axis NC tool-path generation for sculptured surface machining. In the proposed C-space approach, the geometric data describing the design-surface and stock-surface are transformed into C-space elements, and then, all the tool-path generation decisions are made in the configuration space (C-space). The C-space approach provides a number of distinctive features suitable for high speed machining of dies and moulds, including: (1) gouge-free and collision-free tool-paths; (2) balanced cutting-loads; (3) smooth cutter movements; and (4) verification mechanisms. It is suggested, with some supportive results, that the Z-map model might be a suitable representation scheme for implementing the C-space method. Also discussed are other implementation as well as future research directions. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.