Drilling is one of the most common techniques used in manufacturing to create holes. In contrast to other hole-making methods like boring, reaming and tapping, drilling is most often used to create holes in unbroken surfaces. In precision CNC machining, drilling can range in scope from simple, rough hole drilling to complex, multi-feature hole drilling.
Milling is one of the most common processes in CNC machining, most likely because it is so versatile. Using a single tool, machine shops can create nearly limitless shapes on the surface of a workpiece. Milling can completely transform a piece of metal stock into a finished part of nearly any complexity.
The milling process in CNC machining consists of removing material with a rotating cutting tool. Unlike turning, the workpiece does not need to rotate in milling operations. In some cases, the workpiece will move linearly against a cutting tool; in other cases, the workpiece will remain stationary while the cutting tool moves.
Turning has been practiced by machinists for centuries on many different materials. Originally, turning acted on wood to create complex, cylindrical designs for use in tools, handles, furniture. Today, turning is a vital part of the metal manufacturing process, and a major technique used by precision CNC machine shops in the United States and around the globe.
Turning is the process of rotating a workpiece and bringing it into contact with a cutting tool. As the workpiece turns, the rotating motion forces the cutting tool to strip away material. The cutting tool itself can move linearly, either parallel or perpendicular to the axis of the spinning workpiece. Cuts made in turning, and the resulting shape of the workpiece, are determined by the motion and shape of the cutting tool.
Our new blog series What Precision Machine Shops Do focuses on the processes, equipment and knowledge involved in modern machining. We'll take a close look at key metal removal techniques like milling, turning, facing, boring and tapping, along with the many products and parts that work as a result of these processes.
For the most part, we'll be discussing CNC machining, or Computer Numerical Control machining. For a brief introduction to CNC, explaining how it developed and how it differs from non-CNC machining, check out our "Introduction to CNC Machining" blog post.