What is Machining?

Many people think machining is one action or process. In fact, machining refers to a wide range of processes that take material from its ‘raw’ form, and turn them into something else.

The transformation process can either involve the material being removed (by actions like drilling, cutting, or boring), or material being added.

The most common material used in machining is metal. However, wood, plastics, ceramic, and composite materials can also be used.

A brief history of machining

milling-1151344_960_720The term “machining” first came around the middle of the 1800’s. It was used to describe the process of using a machine to take materials and process them into a certain shape. As time went on, and using machines became more common, more processes traditionally done by hand were now being done by these machines.

Some of the innovations developed through machining are turning, sawing, milling, drilling, boring, and tapping. These are today known as “traditional” machining processes.

Machining in modern times

Modern machining includes 3 main processes; these are milling, turning, and drilling.

  • Turning: This is when the material being used is rotated against the cutting tool. This is often controlled by a central computer, but can also be done manually.
  • Milling: This works in opposite to turning. In milling, the material is kept stationary while the cutting tool moves around it. Milling is almost always done by a computer process rather than manual.
  • Drilling: Drill presses were a common form of “traditional” machining, but these days they are often operated using a computerised numerical control (CNC). Drilling creates holes using a rotating cutting head while the workpiece is kept stationary and secured.

Materials used in machining

A variety of solid material can be used in machining, such as:

  • Alloy Steel
  • Mild Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Non-Ferrous Material.