Machining involves the removal of excess material from parts with the assistance of some type of cutting tool. Today, metal parts manufacturers rely extensively upon three important processes to accomplish this objective: turning, milling, and drilling.
The turning process permits a machinist to generate cylindrical parts with desired internal and/or external features. It may involve cutting at single or even multiple points.
The term “single point cutting” describes a machining tool containing a single sharpened edge. It can shear away excess material from a metal workpiece turning on a “lathe”. Manufacturers use lathes as tools to hold and rotate work pieces.
Typically, as the part rotates, a keen blade removes metal during every point of contact. This process produces funnel or cylindrically shaped components with features such as tapers, grooves or slots.
Turning may involve a number of very specific operations. Sometimes machinists divide these activities for classification purposes into two broad categories: internal (impacting the inner diameter of the part) and external (modifying the exterior diameter).
Certain operations sometimes occur interchangeably. For example, thread cutting may occur internally or externally, depending upon part specifications. Additionally, other machining processes, such as drilling and milling, may occur in conjunction with turning in automated manufacturing environments.
Common external machining operations include:
Facing: The cutting blade selectively shears material from an end or shoulder of a metal part.
Grooving: Cutting a channel or depression.
Cut-off: Cutting a groove with deep dimensions.
Thread Cutting: Creating winding grooves to permit the insertions of screws.
Some of the most frequently performed internal machining operations include:
Drilling: Removing material from the interior of a part.
Boring: Producing an interior cylindrical cavity within a metal part with a cutting tool, often a rotary cutting blade.
Reaming: A precise operation which removes excess material from a previously drilled hole in order to obtain specific hole dimensions.
Tapping: Using a tap tool in conjunction with a lathe to cut a thread in the interior of a hole.
For centuries, manufacturers utilized manually operated lathes to turn manufactured parts. This type of equipment required continuous supervision by the human operator. Even today, human machinists must pay close attention to the operation of manual lathes in order to operate cutting tools safely.
Recently, many manufacturing firms have introduced fully automated computer numerical control, or “CNC”, lathes. Automated machinery can turn parts with far greater precision than a human being. While human operators must still supervise the performance of this equipment, they do not need to exercise the constant intensely focused oversight required of manual lathe operators.
A fully automated lathe enables a CNC machinist to pre-program the movements of both the cutting tool and the workpiece. Usually, this sophisticated machinery will incorporate other machining operations, as well. High quality CNC equipment can produce parts within close tolerance ranges.
Turned parts enjoy popularity in numerous industries. Turning enables a manufacturer to produce desired measured rotational surfaces, tapers, grooves, slots and other contours requiring the removal of excess material from a metal part.
The applications for these components vary widely, based upon the specific part. Industrial and machine designers, automakers, furniture makers, electronic parts manufacturers and many others frequently use turning as a machining operation.
Just consider some common applications for turned parts. For instance, by using turning during manufacturing, companies may speed up the production of a prototype. Machining may help create specific rotational features on cogs or wheels. It usually plays a role in the manufacture of rotational parts and custom designed shafts and fasteners, too.
Turning as a machining process potentially offers some distinct advantages in an industrial setting.
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