what are the two types of machining

Machining is a crucial process in the field of manufacturing that involves shaping and removing material to create various parts and components. There are two main types of machining processes: conventional machining and non-conventional machining. Understanding these two types is essential for manufacturers to choose the most suitable method for their specific requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  • Conventional machining and non-conventional machining are the two main types of machining processes.
  • Conventional machining involves using physical tools like blades or drill bits to cut, drill, or shape the material.
  • Non-conventional machining methods employ electrical discharges, chemicals, or abrasive particles for material removal.
  • Conventional machining processes include turning, drilling, milling, grinding, planing, sawing, and broaching.
  • Understanding the different types of machining processes helps manufacturers choose the most suitable method for their specific requirements.

Conventional Machining Processes

Conventional machining processes are the foundation of traditional methods used for shaping and removing material in manufacturing. These processes play a crucial role in various industries, allowing for precise and efficient production of parts and components.

Types of Conventional Machining Processes

The key conventional machining processes include:

  1. Turning: Turning involves rotating a workpiece on a lathe while a cutting tool removes material to create cylindrical shapes. It is commonly used for producing shafts, bolts, and other rotational parts.
  2. Drilling: Drilling uses a rotating drill bit to create holes in the workpiece. It is a versatile process used in various applications such as construction, electronics, and automotive industries.
  3. Milling: Milling uses rotating multi-point cutting tools to remove material and create complex shapes. It is commonly used for shaping, contouring, and creating slots on workpieces.
  4. Grinding: Grinding utilizes abrasive particles to remove small amounts of material and achieve high surface finish. It is used for precision grinding operations on workpieces made of metal, ceramic, or other materials.
  5. Planing: Planing is a process used for machining large, flat surfaces. It involves removing material in a single pass to achieve accurate and flat surfaces required for woodworking and metalworking applications.
  6. Sawing: Sawing is the process of cutting workpieces into smaller lengths using tools such as band saws, circular saws, or power hack saws. It is commonly used in industries like woodworking, metal fabrication, and construction.
  7. Broaching: Broaching is a machining process that uses a specialized tool or broach with teeth arranged in a linear pattern to remove material. It is primarily used for producing keyways, splines, or other complex features.

Each process serves a specific purpose and finds applications in different industries. Understanding the characteristics and capabilities of each process is essential for manufacturers to choose the most suitable method for their specific machining requirements.

Machining Process Characteristics Applications
Turning Rotating the workpiece on a lathe while a cutting tool removes material to create cylindrical shapes. Shafts, bolts, rotational parts.
Drilling Using a rotating drill bit to create holes in the workpiece. Construction, electronics, automotive.
Milling Using rotating multi-point cutting tools to remove material and create complex shapes. Shaping, contouring, slotting.
Grinding Utilizing abrasive particles to remove material and achieve high surface finish. Precision grinding operations.
Planing Machining large, flat surfaces by removing material in a single pass. Woodworking, metalworking.
Sawing Cutting workpieces into smaller lengths using sawing machines. Woodworking, metal fabrication, construction.
Broaching Using a specialized tool with linearly arranged teeth to remove material. Keyways, splines, complex features.


Turning is a machining method that involves rotating the workpiece on a lathe while a cutting tool moves linearly to remove material and create a cylindrical shape. This process can be done manually or with the help of automated lathe machines, such as CNC turning machines. Turning is commonly used to produce rotational parts with features like holes, grooves, threads, and contoured surfaces.

One of the key machines used in the turning process is a lathe. A lathe is a versatile machine tool that rotates the workpiece along its axis, allowing for precise cutting and shaping of various materials. The lathe enables the cutting tool to move in different directions, such as longitudinally and transversely, to achieve the desired shape and dimensions.

CNC turning, or computer numerical control turning, is a highly efficient and precise method of turning that utilizes automated controls and programming. It eliminates the need for manual intervention, making the process more streamlined and accurate. CNC turning machines can create complex geometries and repeatable cuts with ease, making them ideal for large-scale production.

The turning process is widely used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing, where rotational parts are needed. It enables the production of various components, including shafts, rods, bushings, and pulleys. Turning offers excellent precision and surface finish, making it suitable for both functional and aesthetic applications.


Drilling is a machining process that involves the use of a rotating drill bit to create cylindrical holes in the workpiece. The drill bit, which is made of high-speed steel or carbide, moves perpendicularly to the surface of the workpiece, creating vertically-aligned holes. This process is widely used in various industries, including construction, medical equipment, transportation, and electronics.

There are different types of drill bits available for various drilling applications. Some common types include:

  • Spotting drills: Used for creating precise starting points for drilling operations.
  • Peck drills: Used for deep hole drilling, where the drill is continuously retracted and plunged into the workpiece.
  • Screw machine drills: Designed for drilling in metal and other tough materials with high feed rates and exceptional chip clearance.

Drilling operations are essential in many manufacturing processes as they enable the creation of holes with precise dimensions and tolerances. These holes can serve various purposes, such as accommodating fasteners, allowing for fluid or gas flow, or providing access points for further machining operations.

Industry Applications of Drilling
Construction Creating holes for dowels, anchors, and fasteners in concrete, metal, and wood.
Medical Equipment Producing precise holes in medical devices, implants, and surgical instruments.
Transportation Drilling holes for bolts, rivets, and mounting brackets in automobile and aircraft components.
Electronics Creating holes for electronic components, connectors, and PCBs.


Milling is a versatile machining process that uses rotating multi-point cutting tools to remove material from the workpiece. It is a widely-used method in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing.


Milling Tools

One of the key components of the milling process is the cutting tool. Different cutting tools are available for specific milling operations, allowing for various shapes and surfaces to be created.

Common types of milling tools include:

  • End Mills: These cutting tools have flat bottoms and spiral flutes, allowing for efficient material removal. They are commonly used for facing, slotting, and contouring.
  • Helical Mills: Helical mills have cutting edges that wrap around a central axis, providing a shearing action. They are ideal for high-performance milling of tough materials.
  • Chamfer Mills: Chamfer mills are used for creating chamfers or beveled edges on workpieces. They are especially useful for deburring and creating clean finishes.
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Milling Machines

Milling machines are essential for executing the milling process accurately and efficiently. They come in various types, from basic models to advanced machines with additional axes for complex machining tasks.

Some common types of milling machines include:

  • Vertical Milling Machine: In this machine, the spindle is oriented vertically, allowing for the workpiece to be positioned vertically or horizontally as needed.
  • Horizontal Milling Machine: The spindle in a horizontal milling machine is horizontal, enabling the milling cutter to be positioned vertically or horizontally.
  • Universal Milling Machine: This type of machine has the ability to rotate the spindle and move the worktable, providing greater flexibility for various milling operations.

A complete understanding of milling tools and machines, along with the knowledge of appropriate cutting parameters, is essential for achieving precise and efficient milling operations.

Milling Tool Features Applications
End Mills Flat bottoms, spiral flutes Facing, slotting, contouring
Helical Mills Wrap-around cutting edges High-performance milling of tough materials
Chamfer Mills Beveled edges Deburring, clean finishes

Table: Common Milling Tools and their Applications


Grinding is a machining process that involves the precise removal of small amounts of material from both flat surfaces and cylindrical shapes. It is commonly used to achieve tight tolerances and smooth finishes in various industries.

There are several types of grinding machines that cater to different applications:

  • Surface Grinders: Surface grinders use a horizontally rotating grinding wheel to remove material from the surface of a workpiece. The workpiece is reciprocated back and forth on a table, allowing for controlled material removal.
  • Cylindrical Grinders: Cylindrical grinders rotate the workpiece while applying an abrasive wheel to remove material from the outer surface. This process is commonly used to create precise cylindrical shapes and achieve smooth finishes.
  • Centerless Grinding: Centerless grinding is a high-volume process where the ground surface has no relationship to any other surface. It involves feeding the workpiece between a grinding wheel and a regulating wheel, which supports and controls the workpiece while removing material.
  • Double Disc Grinding: Double disc grinding involves passing parts between two counter-rotating grinding wheels. This process is used for precise parallelism, thickness, and flatness control.

Grinding can be performed using various types of abrasive wheels, such as aluminum oxide or diamond. The choice of abrasive wheel depends on the material being ground and the desired surface finish.

Advantages of Grinding Disadvantages of Grinding
  • Precision machining
  • Tight tolerances
  • Excellent surface finishes
  • Ability to achieve complex shapes
  • Removal of hardened materials
  • High cost of equipment
  • Requires skilled operators
  • Slow material removal rate
  • Potential for heat damage to the workpiece
  • Noisy and dusty process

Despite its limitations, grinding remains a widely used machining process due to its ability to achieve high precision and smooth finishes on various materials.


Planing is a machining process that is commonly used in woodworking to machine large, flat surfaces. It is particularly beneficial for creating accurate flat surfaces, cutting slots, and making dovetail joints. Planing machines remove material in a single pass to create completely flat or inclined surfaces.

Woodworkers rely on planing to shape and smooth large, flat pieces of wood. By using a planing machine, they can achieve precise dimensions and a smooth finish on their workpieces. Planing is especially useful when working with materials such as hardwoods, where achieving a flat surface can be challenging.

One of the significant advantages of planing is its ability to remove material quickly and efficiently from large surfaces. Unlike other machining processes that may require multiple passes, planing can achieve the desired results in a single operation. This makes it a time-saving technique for shaping and preparing wood for further processing.

Here is an example of a planing machine:

planing machine

The planing machine is equipped with a cutting tool that moves across the workpiece’s surface, gradually removing material to create the desired shape or flatness. Woodworkers can adjust the depth and speed of the cut to achieve the desired result.

In summary, planing is a valuable machining process in woodworking for shaping large, flat surfaces. It allows woodworkers to achieve precise dimensions and a smooth finish on their workpieces. By using planing machines, they can efficiently remove material and prepare wood for further processing.


Sawing is an essential machining process that utilizes cut-off machines to create shorter lengths from bars or extruded shapes. This process is commonly used in various industries, including woodworking, metal fabrication, and die making. Sawing machines employ different techniques to cut through materials, such as vertical and horizontal band saws, power hack saws, abrasive wheel saws, and circular saws.

Vertical and Horizontal Band Saws

Vertical and horizontal band saws are popular machines used for sawing applications. They feature continuous loops of toothed bands that rotate to cut through the material. Vertical band saws are ideal for cutting irregular shapes and intricate designs, while horizontal band saws excel at straight cuts and high-volume production.

Power Hack Saws

Power hack saws are another type of cut-off machines used for sawing. They are equipped with reciprocating blades that move back and forth to shear through the material. Power hack saws are commonly used for cutting heavy-duty metals and materials with high tensile strength.

Abrasive Wheel Saws and Circular Saws

Abrasive wheel saws and circular saws are versatile cut-off machines that utilize rotating abrasive wheels or circular blades to cut through different materials. These saws offer flexibility in terms of cutting angles and can achieve precise and clean cuts.

By employing various sawing techniques and machines, manufacturers can efficiently transform raw materials into desired shapes and sizes, facilitating the production of a wide range of products across different industries.

Type of Sawing Machine Application
Vertical Band Saw Ideal for cutting irregular shapes and intricate designs
Horizontal Band Saw Excellent for straight cuts and high-volume production
Power Hack Saw Suitable for cutting heavy-duty metals and high tensile strength materials
Abrasive Wheel Saw Offers flexibility in cutting angles with precise and clean cuts
Circular Saw Used for cutting various materials with accuracy and speed
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Broaching is a machining process that utilizes a specialized tool called a broach, which contains sequentially arranged teeth. This tool is used to remove material from a workpiece in a precise and efficient manner. Broaching is commonly employed in various industries to create niche features such as square holes, keyways, and spline holes.

Broaching is performed using different types of machines, including vertical press-type machines and hydraulically-powered horizontal machines. The choice of machine depends on the specific requirements of the project. The cutting speed in broaching varies based on the material being machined, ensuring optimal results.

Broaching offers several advantages over other machining processes. It allows for the production of complex features with high precision and accuracy. The process is efficient, enabling the removal of a significant amount of material in a single pass. Additionally, broaching can be used to create features that are difficult or impossible to achieve through other methods.

To better understand broaching, let’s take a closer look at the key features it can help create:

Square Holes

Broaching is a highly effective process for creating square holes. The broach is designed with a series of teeth that progressively remove material, resulting in a precisely shaped square hole.


Keyways are commonly used to secure gears, pulleys, and other rotating components to shafts. Broaching is an efficient method for producing keyways with precise dimensions and tolerances.

Spline Holes

Spline holes are used to connect two or more components, such as gears or shafts, in a way that allows for rotational movement. Broaching is often employed to create spline holes with the necessary geometry and accuracy.

Overall, broaching is a versatile machining process that offers unique capabilities for creating specialized features. Whether it’s square holes, keyways, or spline holes, broaching provides a reliable solution for achieving precise results. With its efficiency and accuracy, broaching continues to be a preferred method in various industries.

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM)

Electrical discharge machining, or EDM, is a specialized machining process that utilizes electric arcing discharges to shape and cut hard materials with precise accuracy. This non-conventional machining method is particularly effective for creating complex geometrical shapes and achieving close tolerances.

EDM works by generating controlled electrical discharges between the workpiece and an electrode, resulting in the formation of micro-craters on the surface of the workpiece. These micro-craters gradually erode the material, allowing for the creation of intricate shapes and features.

One of the key advantages of EDM is its ability to work with electrically conductive materials, making it suitable for machining ferrous alloys such as steel and cast iron. This makes EDM a popular choice in industries that require the production of molds, dies, and other components with intricate details and high precision.

Advantages of Electrical Discharge Machining:

  • Ability to machine complex geometries and intricate shapes that are difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional machining methods
  • Capable of producing high-quality surface finishes
  • Allows for close tolerances and precision machining
  • No direct contact between the tool and the workpiece, minimizing the risk of tool wear and breakage

Applications of Electrical Discharge Machining:

EDM finds its application in various industries, including:

Industry Applications
Automotive Making injection molds, dies, and precision parts
Aerospace Manufacturing turbine blades, engine components, and complex aerospace parts
Medical Producing surgical instruments, implants, and micro-components
Electronics Creating microelectrodes, micro connectors, and precision parts for electronic devices
Tool and Die Forming complex molds, dies, and tooling components

Overall, electrical discharge machining offers a unique and effective solution for machining complex shapes and working with hard materials. Its ability to provide intricate details and close tolerances makes it indispensable in various industries where precision and high-quality surface finishes are required.

Electrochemical Machining (ECM)

Electrochemical machining (ECM) is an innovative process that utilizes the reverse electroplating technique to remove material and shape workpieces. This method is particularly effective for working with hard metals and exotic metals that are difficult to machine using conventional methods. ECM offers numerous advantages, including the ability to achieve high surface finishes and create intricate contours with exceptional precision.

The ECM process involves the use of an electrolyte solution and a specially designed tool called an electrode. The workpiece, typically made from hard metals or exotic alloys, is submerged in the electrolyte solution. When an electric current is applied, material removal occurs through controlled dissolution at the surface of the workpiece. The electrode, made from a conductive material, is designed to match the desired shape of the final product.

One of the significant benefits of ECM is its ability to produce small or odd-shaped angles, cavities, and intricate contours that are challenging to achieve with traditional machining techniques. This makes ECM highly suitable for applications that require complex geometries and tight tolerances. Additionally, ECM offers the advantage of achieving high surface finishes, which is crucial in industries such as aerospace, medical, and precision engineering.

Advantages of Electrochemical Machining (ECM)

  • Capability to machine hard metals and exotic alloys
  • Precision machining with high surface finishes
  • Ability to create intricate contours and complex geometries
  • Reduced tool wear and longer tool life
  • No mechanical forces applied, resulting in minimal residual stress
  • Efficient removal of material from electrically conductive workpieces

Table: Comparison of Electrochemical Machining (ECM) and Conventional Machining

Aspects ECM Conventional Machining
Materials Hard metals, exotic alloys Wide range of materials
Surface Finish Highly polished Variable
Complexity Complex geometries, intricate contours Limited complexity
Tool Wear Minimal Tool wear depends on material hardness
Residual Stress Minimal Dependent on machining forces

Summary and Conclusion

Machining is a fundamental manufacturing process that involves the shaping and removal of material to create various parts and components. Within the realm of machining, there are two main types of processes: conventional and non-conventional. Conventional machining encompasses a range of techniques including turning, drilling, milling, grinding, planing, sawing, and broaching, each with its distinctive characteristics and numerous applications in various industries.

Non-conventional machining processes, such as Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) and Electrochemical Machining (ECM), provide alternative methods for machinists to produce complex shapes and work with hard materials. EDM uses electric arcing discharges to create micro-craters, making it suitable for machining hard materials with complex geometrical shapes. ECM, on the other hand, utilizes the reverse electroplating technique to remove material and is particularly useful for working with hard and exotic metals.

Understanding the different types of machining processes is vital for manufacturers to select the most suitable method for their specific manufacturing needs. By implementing the appropriate machining technique, manufacturers can enhance efficiency, precision, and productivity, ultimately improving their overall manufacturing processes and the quality of the end products.