CNC Turning Explained

Machine shops offer a wide range of valuable resource to individuals and businesses within the community they operate in. Experienced technicians use hand crafting and computer controlled machines to produce replacement parts, costumed designs as well as to maintain and repair different equipment pieces. The word “turning” as a part of the machining process refers to the application of a cutting tool that cuts a path by turning the workpiece while the tool itself remains fixed in place.

CNC turning is an old technique. In the past it was done by using a traditional tool known as lathe, which was believed to be one of the oldest tools used in the machining history. Since its invention, lathe has been and is still used in many different machining processes like taper turning, straight turning and external or profiling grooving. All these processes are used in the production of different-shaped pieces with edges that are either curved, conical, grooved or straight.

Thanks to the technological improvements, almost all of today’s turning processes are made with the help of computers. CNC turning refers to an automated form of turning completed by a machine rather than by hand, creating a different end product. During CNC turning, the material (plastic, metal, etc) is rotated at different speeds and the tool crosses over two axes of motion to produce cuts with exact diameters and depths. CNC turning can be used on the inside of the material to create a tubular cavity withing the chosen material, or it can be used on the outside to create a tubular shape, like a nautical drive shaft or decorative brass shoulder bolt.

CNC turning has a lot of benefits compared to manual turning:

Saves time – These machines provide precise cutting and can handle from the most simplest to the most complex shapes. The use of CNC machines for turning as well as for other machining processes, allows for the production of a greater number of goods in a shorter period of time and less money.

Less waste – Because the process itself is highly precise, the material waste is minimized. The whole process is computer operated which means the cut can be made over and over again with an exact precision. Any mistake that may happen during manual turning means that the whole piece needs to be thrown away.

Minimal supervision required – A person who is trained to operate with CNC machines can program them and focus on other things while machines are getting the job done. This saves a lot of human labor as well as a great amount of money to the manufacturer.