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Understanding the Different Machining Processes and Machine Tools

Through machining and other fabrication processes, Blue Grass Manufacturing can design and produce a wide range of parts and components. Different fabrication processes can add or subtract material to create products of varying levels of complexity. One of the most common types of manufacturing processes used for these purposes is machining.

The Different Machining Processes

What Is Machining?

Machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that gradually cuts or removes material to form a final design. Manufacturers can customize the design of machined components to have unique shapes and sizes by controlling what portions of the raw material, or workpiece, are removed. Machining is a broad category that includes many different processes.

The three most common machining processes include:

  • Turning: The material is spun by a lathe so blades can cut away portions of the material as it spins. There are several different types of turning, and each element of the process can be customized to fit different design specifications. The lathe can turn the inside of the workpiece (“boring”) or the outside (“facing”) to create different end products. Turning can also be done manually or with the aid of a computer.

  • Milling: This is an extremely flexible machining process because the cutting tools can perform a wide variety of motions. In milling processes, the workpiece is attached to a movable worktable that adjusts to direct the piece to either stationary or mobile cutting tools. 

  • Drilling: During drilling processes, holes are bored through the material. This type of machining is used to prepare workpieces for the assembly of different components. Every material has recommended tools and settings to create smooth holes and easy cleanup.

Although lathe and milling processes operate via the same principle, equipment used for these purposes works differently. Lathe machines rotate the workpiece around a tool and are commonly used to machine cylindrical components. On the other hand, in milling machines, each tool rotates around its own fixed axis, and the table holding the workpiece moves the material to reach different tools oriented at different angles. This process can create more varied, complex products.

Other manufacturing and fabrication processes that BGM performs include:

  • Boring

  • Broaching

  • Facing

  • Tapping

  • Thread rolling

  • Welding

Machine Tools

Using the right machining tools is just as important as using the right process. Some of the most important machining tools include:


Lathes hold the workpiece along a fixed axis and rotate it. Machinists then apply cutting tools to remove material to create a cylindrical end product.


Drills are rotating cutting tools that drill or bore into workpieces to create round holes using drillbits composed of different sizes and materials.


Milling is a versatile machining process. A wide variety of machining tools can mill, and there are specially designed milling cutters. These cutters have different shapes and can vary their flute and teeth arrangements to create complex designs.

Milling cutters are generally used to either rough a surface, which involves removing rough cuts of excess material to get closer to the end product, or to finish a product with more complex and fine-tuned cuts.

CNC Machines

Computer numerical control (CNC) machines are programmed to control the cutting functions of many different tools mounted on a spindle. CNC programs and machines can use a variety of machining tools to create highly complex replicas of any design.

High-Quality Machining by Blue Grass Manufacturing

Blue Grass Manufacturing has experience machining and fabricating machine components, castings, forgings, extrusions, and near-net components for a wide range of industries.

Contact us today to request a quote for your project.

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