Machining is any process in which a cutting tool is used to remove small chips of material from the work-piece.

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Machining is a manufacturing term encompassing a broad range of technologies and techniques. It can be roughly defined as the process of removing material from a work-piece using power-driven machine tools to shape it into an intended design. Most metal components and parts require some form of machining during the manufacturing process. Other materials, such as plastics, rubbers, and paper goods, are also commonly fabricated through machining processes.

In machining, several operations occur in a planned sequence to achieve the best results. We cover three of the most common operations including turning, drilling, and milling. Machining is a very common and versatile manufacturing process. Thus, it’s possible to machine various types of material using these three methods. Metals, plastics, composites, and wood are all possible work-piece materials.

Types of Machining Tools

Boring tools: These are typically used as finishing equipment to enlarge holes previously cut into the material.

Cutting tools: Devices such as saws and shears are typical examples of cutting implements. They are often used to cut material with predetermined dimensions, such as sheet metal, into the desired shape.

Drilling tools: This category consists of two-edged rotating devices that create round holes parallel to the axis of rotation.

Grinding tools: These instruments apply a rotating wheel to achieve a fine finish or to make light cuts on a work-piece.

Milling tools: A milling tool employs a rotating cutting surface with several blades to create non-circular holes or cut unique designs out of the material.

Turning tools: These tools rotate a work-piece on its axis while a cutting tool shapes it to form. Lathes are the most common type of turning equipment.



Welding and burning machine tools use heat to shape a work-piece. The most common types of welding and burning machining technologies include:


Laser cutting: A laser machine emits a narrow, high-energy beam of light that effectively melts, vaporizes, or burns material. CO2 and Nd: YAG lasers are the most common types used in machining. The laser cutting process is well-suited for shaping steel or etching patterns into a piece of material. Its benefits include high-quality surface finishes and extreme cutting precision.

Oxy-fuel cutting: Also known as gas cutting, this machining method employs a mixture of fuel gases and oxygen to melt and cut away material. Acetylene, gasoline, hydrogen, and propane frequently serve as gas media due to their high flammability. This method’s benefits include high portability, low dependence on primary power sources, and the ability to cut thick or hard materials, such as sturdy steel grades.

Plasma cutting: Plasma torches fire an electrical arc to transform inert gas into plasma. This plasma reaches extremely elevated temperatures and is applied to the work-piece at high speed to melt away unwanted material. The process is often used on electrically conductive metals that require a precise cut width and minimal prep time.

Types of Erosion Machining Technologies

While burning tools apply heat to melt excess stock, erosion machining devices use water or electricity to erode material off the work-piece. The two main types of erosion machining technologies are:


Water jet cutting: This process uses a high-pressurized stream of water to cut through the material. The abrasive powder may be added to the water stream to facilitate erosion. Water jet cutting is typically used on materials that can suffer damage or deformation from a heat-affected zone.

Electric discharge machining (EDM): Also known as spark machining, this process uses electric arcing discharges to create micro-craters that rapidly result in complete cuts. EDM is used in applications requiring complex geometrical shapes in hard materials and at close tolerances. EDM requires the base material to be electrically conductive, which limits its use to ferrous alloys.

CNC Machining

Computer numerical control, or CNC, machining is a computer-aided technique that can be used in conjunction with a broad range of equipment. It requires software and programming, usually in the G-code language, to guide a machining tool in shaping the workpiece according to preset parameters. As opposed to manually guided methods, CNC machining is an automated process. Some of its benefits include:


High production cycles: Once the CNC machine has been properly coded, it usually needs minimal maintenance or downtime, allowing for a faster production rate.

Low manufacturing costs: Due to its turnover speed and low manual labor requirements, CNC machining can be a cost-efficient process, particularly for high-volume production runs.

Uniform production: CNC machining is typically precise and yields a high level of design consistency among its products.

Precision Machining

Any machining process that requires unusually small cutting tolerances (between 0.013 mm and 0.0005 mm, as a rule of thumb) or surface finishes finer than 32T may be considered a form of precision machining. Like CNC machining, precision machining can be applied to a wide number of fabrication methods and tools. Factors such as stiffness, damping, and geometric accuracy can influence the exactness of a precision tool’s cut. Motion control and the machine’s ability to respond at rapid feed rates are also important in precision machining applications.



Machining can be done on any number of material types, however Advantage Machining are experts in working with the following materials:

  • Alloy Steel: 4140, 4130, EN30B
  • Mild Steel: A36 / 44 W, 1018, 1020, 1045, 12L14
  • Stainless Steel: 17-4 PH, 303, 304, 316
  • Aluminum: 6061-T6, MIC6, 2000 series, Cast Ductile Iron
  • Plastic: Delrin / Acetyl, Ultra-high Molecular Weight (UHMW), Nylon, HDPE, ABS
  • Non-Ferrous Material: Brass, Bronze
  • Titanium
  • Engineering Plastics, Ultem, Delrin, ABS
  • Copper Tungsten, CuW, Oxygen Free Copper C100 Series, Steel SUS series, Mic-6, Brass, Bronze, Invar, Covar, Ceramics, etc.


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