As a popular term in manufacturing, machining refers to the conversion of workpieces into finished products. Machining includes multiple types of manufacturing processes and encompasses both manual and automated techniques.
What is Machining?
Machining is a material removal process that manufacturers use to shape a piece of stock material into a completed part, often adding features such as holes or pockets. The stock material may come in the form of tubes, bars, beams, or flat sheets. Manufacturers may also utilize the machining process on a pre-existing part in order to alter its size or shape.
Machining is highly versatile and compatible with virtually all materials. While machinists will most commonly work with metals, it is also possible to machine ceramic, wood, plastic, and more.
What Are the Main Types of Machining Processes?
There are three main types of machining processes: turning, milling, and drilling.
In this machining operation, the workpiece rotates on a lathe while a stationary cutting tool removes material along the rotational axis. This process can be either manual or automatic. It will make use of various tools for different applications, such as threading and round-corner forming. Machinists may also utilize finishing, roughing, or facing tools.
As one of the most common machining processes, milling keeps the workpiece stationary and removes material with multi-point rotary cutters. This process almost always utilizes computer numerical control (CNC) machines.
There are two main types of milling. The first, known as face milling, cuts flat surfaces. The second, peripheral milling, cuts features such as threads and gear teeth. Typically, milling is a secondary finishing process rather than a primary shaping one. Machinists will often utilize milling to add finishing touches, such as pockets, to a part that has already been machined.
Drilling creates a round hole in a stationary workpiece, often utilizing CNC machinery. Depending on the desired result, machinists will use varying types of drill bits and techniques. Common examples include:
- Spotting Drills.Spotting drills are short drill bits ideal for creating shallow holes.
- Chucking Reamers. Chucking reamers are used to enlarge pre-existing holes with great precision.
- Peck Drilling.Peck drilling is a technique where the machinist will repeatedly retract the drill in order to clear chips and debris away from the workpiece.
What Makes CNC Machining Unique?
CNC machining and conventional machining differ in several key ways. Perhaps most significantly, conventional machining requires a technician to operate each machine, while CNC machining only requires a single technician to oversee multiple machines, drastically increasing efficiency.
When compared to conventional machining, CNC machining has three major benefits:
Due to the fact that it is an automated process, CNC machining produces parts quickly and efficiently while significantly reducing the chance of error. Parts that have been machined in this way will generally be more uniform, regardless of complexity. Additionally, CNC machining can cut on multiple axes simultaneously, making for a more rapid process and enabling higher levels of customization.
CNC machining is ideal for large production runs that require high numbers of identical parts. While it may incur more upfront costs, the efficiency and accuracy of this machining process will typically lead to cost savings in larger projects; however, it is less suited to small production runs that do not require such high levels of rapid, uniform work.
Partner With Avon Machining
The machining process is a vital part of the manufacturing industry, allowing for the creation of a vast array of components. At Avon Machining, we are known for producing complex parts, such as gears, transmission parts, and axle shafts, for heavy equipment industries. We work closely with our customers to bring intricate projects to life while maintaining competitive pricing and the highest quality standards.
Dedicated to connecting with repeat customers and achieving 100% customer satisfaction, we continually invest in state-of-the-art CNC equipment and hire the industry’s best machinists. Browse our offerings or contact us today to work with us on your next machining project.