what do you call a machine that cuts metal

Metal cutting machines are generally referred to as machine tools. These precision instruments are designed to shape metal workpieces by removing material through various cutting processes. Common types of metal cutting machines include lathes, milling machines, drilling machines, grinding machines, and sawing machines. Each type serves a specific purpose in metalworking: lathes rotate the workpiece against a cutting tool, milling machines use rotating cutters to remove material, drilling machines create holes, grinding machines use abrasive wheels for precision finishing, and sawing machines cut metal into desired lengths or shapes.

More advanced metal cutting machines include computer numerical control (CNC) machines, which automate the cutting process using programmed instructions. These machines are essential in manufacturing industries, ranging from automotive and aerospace to consumer electronics and medical devices, enabling the production of precise metal components with high efficiency and accuracy

  • Metal cutting machines, also known as metalworking machines or metal fabrication tools, are used to slice and shape metal components.
  • Understanding the different types of metal cutting machines is essential for professionals in the metalworking industry.
  • Some common metal cutting machines include lathes, saws, drills, torches, mills, grinders, water jets, and more.
  • Each type of metal cutting machine has its own specific uses and advantages.
  • Choosing the right metal cutting machines for your projects is crucial to ensure precision and efficiency.

Lathes: Shaping Metal with Precision

Lathes are essential metal cutting machines used in various industries, including artisanal and industrial settings, for shaping metal components with utmost precision. Operating on the principle of a potter’s wheel, lathes spin a metal workpiece on a horizontal axis, allowing for a wide range of operations such as cutting, sanding, and threading. With the use of lathe cutting tools, lathes can create perfectly circular and symmetrical metal parts.

The key to the versatility of lathes lies in the variety of lathe cutting tools available. These tools include external and internal thread cutting tools, boring tools, and grooving tools. By using these tools, lathes can shape metal parts with exceptional accuracy and craftsmanship.

In artisanal settings, lathes are commonly used to create intricate and customized metal components like doorknobs, nuts, screws, and gun barrels. In the industrial sector, lathes play a vital role in mass production, ensuring consistency and precision in the manufacturing process.

The Benefits of Using a Metal Lathe

  • Accurate shaping: Lathes allow for the creation of precise and uniform shapes, making them ideal for applications that require high levels of dimensional accuracy.
  • Enhanced efficiency: By automating the shaping process, lathes improve productivity and reduce the time required to produce metal components.
  • Versatility: With the ability to perform various operations, lathes offer flexibility in handling different types of metal components and fulfilling diverse manufacturing requirements.
  • Consistent quality: The use of lathe cutting tools ensures consistent results, minimizing variations in the finished metal parts.

Overall, lathes are indispensable tools in the metalworking industry, enabling precise shaping and providing unmatched control over the manufacturing process. Their ability to shape metal with precision makes them a valuable asset in both small-scale workshops and large-scale manufacturing facilities.

Saws: Versatile Tools for Cutting Metal

Saws are essential tools in the metalworking industry, offering versatility and efficiency in cutting metal components to the desired dimensions. With their long history and wide range of types, saws have remained a popular choice for various metal cutting tasks.

Circular Saws

Circular saws are commonly used in metalworking due to their versatility and speed. With their rotating circular blades, they can cut through various types of metal, including sheet metal and metal pipes, with ease and precision. Circular saws are available in different sizes and power configurations to cater to different cutting needs, making them a go-to tool for many metal fabricators and craftsmen.

Band Saws

Band saws offer precise and efficient cutting for a wide range of metalworking applications. These saws feature a continuous band of toothed metal, stretched between two or more wheels, which moves in a continuous loop to cut through metal materials. Band saws are particularly useful for making curved or irregular cuts, making them ideal for intricate metal fabrication projects.

Reciprocating Saws

Reciprocating saws, also known as saber saws or recip saws, are handheld cutting tools that use a push-and-pull motion to cut through metal. These saws are equipped with a reciprocating blade that moves back and forth rapidly, allowing for efficient cutting in tight spaces or for removing metal materials quickly. Reciprocating saws are commonly used in demolition work or for rough cuts in metal fabrication.

Cold Saws

Cold saws are specifically designed for cutting metal with minimal heat generation, making them suitable for materials that are sensitive to high temperatures. These saws use a circular metal blade and a coolant or lubricant to reduce heat buildup during the cutting process, ensuring clean and precise cuts on various metal types. Cold saws are widely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and metalworking.

Saw Type Application Advantages
Circular Saws General metal cutting tasks – Versatile and fast- Suitable for sheet metal and metal pipes
Band Saws Curved or irregular cuts – Precise cutting- Ideal for intricate metal fabrication
Reciprocating Saws Tight spaces or quick material removal – Handheld and portable- Efficient in demolition and rough cuts
Cold Saws Heat-sensitive materials – Minimal heat generation- Clean and precise cuts

Drills: Creating Holes in Metal

Drills are indispensable tools in metal-cutting machinery, enabling the creation of holes in metal components with varying depths and diameters. Powered by a robust motor, drills utilize a drill bit to pierce through the metal while rotating at high speeds. Whether it’s handheld drills, drilling machines, or drill presses, these versatile tools are essential for metal fabrication tasks that require precise hole creation.

The Different Types of Drills

Drills come in a variety of forms, each designed for specific applications in metalworking:

  • Handheld Drills: Also known as corded or cordless drills, handheld drills offer portability and flexibility. They are commonly used for small-scale metalworking projects, repairs, and installations.
  • Drilling Machines: Drilling machines, often found in industrial settings, are stationary and designed for heavy-duty drilling tasks. They offer greater power and accuracy, making them suitable for drilling large holes in metal components.
  • Drill Presses: Drill presses are fixed machines with a vertical spindle and a worktable. They provide stability and precision when drilling holes in metal, making them ideal for repetitive drilling tasks.

Advantages of Using Drills in Metalworking

Utilizing drills in metal fabrication processes offers several advantages:

  • Precision: Drills ensure accurate hole creation, allowing for close tolerances and precise placement of fasteners in metal components.
  • Efficiency: With high rotational speeds and powerful motors, drills enable fast and efficient hole drilling, increasing productivity in metalworking projects.
  • Versatility: Drills can be equipped with various drill bits, allowing for the creation of holes in different materials and diameters. They are also compatible with other accessories, such as countersinks and reamers.
  • Ease of Use: From handheld drills to drill presses, these tools are user-friendly, making them accessible to both professionals and DIY enthusiasts.

By harnessing the capabilities of drills, metalworkers can accurately and efficiently create holes in metal components, facilitating the assembly and construction of various metal products.

Torches: Cutting Tough Metal Parts

Torches, particularly oxy-acetylene torches, are versatile tools commonly associated with welding. However, they are also highly effective for cutting tough and hard-to-cut metal parts. By harnessing extreme heat, torches can effortlessly slice through metals of any thickness, making them indispensable in various metalworking applications.

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Oxy-acetylene torches, in particular, utilize a combination of oxygen and acetylene gases to produce a high-intensity flame. This intense heat melts the metal, allowing for precise and controlled cutting. The cutting process with a torch can be messy due to the molten metal and sparks, but the smoothness of the cuts largely depends on the skill and technique of the operator.

Once the torch cutting is complete, it is common practice to follow up with grinding and sanding to achieve the desired smoothness and finish. This additional step ensures that the metal parts are ready for further fabrication or integration into an assembly.

Advantages of Torch Cutting:

  • Capability to cut through metals of any thickness
  • Ability to make precise and controlled cuts
  • Versatility for various metalworking applications
  • Applicable to both artisanal and industrial settings

Torch cutting is particularly valuable when working with thick or heavy-duty metal parts that would be difficult to cut with other methods. It allows fabricators and craftsmen to accomplish intricate designs and shapes with precision. Furthermore, torch cutting can be performed on-site, providing convenience and flexibility for metalworking projects.

While torch cutting may seem intense and requiring advanced skills, with proper training and safety precautions, it can be mastered and become an invaluable addition to a metalworker’s toolkit.

Next, we’ll explore another essential metal cutting tool – mills, which offer accurate cutting and shaping of metal components.

metal-cutting torches

Mills: Accurate Cutting and Shaping

Mills are cutting tools that use a high-speed rotating cutter to accurately cut and shape metal components. These machines, also known as milling machines, are widely utilized in production work due to their superior accuracy and surface polish compared to other metal cutting tools. Milling machines are commonly used in metalworking for various manufacturing tasks, offering precise results with fine details, corners, and dimensions.

Similar to drills, mills can be fixed on a workspace, providing stability and precise control over the cutting process. With their rotating cutter, mills can efficiently remove material from metal components, creating intricate shapes and features. Whether it’s cutting a straight surface, making a curved profile, or producing complex contours, mills excel in achieving the desired accuracy and finish.

Types of Mills

There are various types of mills available, each with its specific applications and capabilities. Some common types of mills include:

  • Vertical Mills: These mills have a vertically oriented spindle, allowing for vertical cutting and drilling operations.
  • Horizontal Mills: These mills have a horizontally oriented spindle, enabling horizontal cutting and drilling operations.
  • Universal Mills: These mills can perform both vertical and horizontal milling operations, providing versatility for different machining needs.

Additionally, mills can utilize different types of cutting tools, such as end mills, face mills, and ball mills, to achieve specific cutting profiles and finishes.

Applications of Mills

The accuracy, precision, and versatility of mills make them indispensable tools in various metalworking applications. Some common applications of mills include:

  • Creating slots, keyways, and splines
  • Making gears, threads, and worm gears
  • Producing intricate prototypes and molds
  • Cutting precise profiles and contours
  • Machining complex 3D surfaces

Mills are commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and tooling, where precision and high-quality metal components are required.

Grinders: Smoothing Out Metal Surfaces

Grinders are essential tools in metal fabrication processes. These abrasive machines are used to smooth out metal surfaces, reducing sharp edges or dimensions of metal parts. They operate similarly to a circular file tool, spinning at high speeds to create friction and remove material from the metal surface.

Whether you need to sharpen blades, round out sharp edges, or resize metal components for a proper fit, grinders are up to the task. With their ability to remove material efficiently, grinders ensure that metal surfaces are smooth and ready for further processing or assembly.

Grinders come in various types, including angle grinders, bench grinders, and belt grinders. Each type offers its own advantages and specific applications in metalworking. For instance, angle grinders are handheld and versatile, ideal for grinding and cutting metal in tight spaces. Bench grinders, on the other hand, are stationary machines commonly used in workshops for precise grinding and sharpening tasks.

When working with grinders, it’s crucial to follow proper safety precautions, including wearing protective gear such as safety glasses and gloves. The high-speed rotation of the grinding wheel can create sparks and metal debris, which can be hazardous without proper protection. Additionally, ensure that the grinder is securely anchored and the workpiece is firmly held in place to prevent accidents.

Advantages of Grinders in Metalworking:

  • Smooths out metal surfaces, reducing sharp edges or dimensions
  • Can be used for various grinding tasks, including sharpening blades and resizing metal components
  • Enhances the overall appearance and fit of metal parts
  • Versatile range of grinder types available for different applications
  • Allows for precise control and adjustment of material removal

Frequently Used Types of Grinders:

Grinder Type Description Applications
Angle Grinder A handheld grinder with a rotating disc for cutting and grinding tasks – Removing excess material from welds
– Cutting through metal pipes
– Smoothing out rough surfaces
Bench Grinder A stationary grinder fixed to a workbench for precision grinding tasks – Sharpening tools
– Grinding small metal components
– Polishing metal surfaces
Belt Grinder Uses a continuous abrasive belt for rapid material removal – Shaping and smoothing large metal surfaces
– Removing weld seams
– Grinding irregular contours

Water Jet: Cutting Metal with Precision

When it comes to cutting metal with precision, water can be a surprisingly powerful tool. By pressurizing and concentrating water at a small point, we can achieve remarkable results. Water jet cutting is a cutting-edge technique that utilizes high-pressure water to slice through various metals, including steel.

Unlike traditional cutting tools, water jet cutting does not generate excessive heat, making it ideal for working with sensitive metal components that may warp or expand under high temperatures. This process ensures that the structural integrity of the metal is preserved, resulting in precise and clean cuts.

The water jet cutting process involves forcing the high-pressure water through a small orifice, creating a fine jet of water capable of cutting through the metal with incredible accuracy. To enhance the cutting capabilities of the water jet, abrasive materials such as garnet are sometimes added to the water stream. This abrasive mix further increases the velocity and cutting power of the water, enabling it to slice through even the toughest metals.

Water jet cutting offers numerous advantages in the metalworking industry. It provides precise and controlled cutting, allowing for intricate shapes and complex designs to be effortlessly achieved. Additionally, the absence of heat-affected zones minimizes the need for post-cutting treatments or corrections.

The versatility of water jet cutting makes it suitable for a wide range of metal cutting applications. It can be used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, and fabrication, where the demand for precise and intricate metal components is high. From cutting sheet metal to creating custom parts, water jet cutting is a reliable and efficient method.

Overall, water jet cutting presents a modern and innovative solution for metal cutting needs. Its ability to provide precise, clean cuts with minimal heat distortion makes it a preferred choice in the metalworking industry. With its versatility and efficiency, water jet cutting has revolutionized the way metal components are shaped and refined.

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Advantages of Water Jet Cutting:

  • Precision cutting without heat-affected zones
  • Ability to cut through various metals, including steel
  • Versatile applications in multiple industries
  • Minimal need for post-cutting treatments or corrections
  • Efficient and clean cutting process

Example of Water Jet Cutting Process:

Materials Thickness (in inches) Cutting Speed (in inches per minute)
Steel 0.25 1,000
Aluminum 0.5 1,500
Copper 0.125 2,000

Machine Tools: Essential for Metalworking

Machine tools are crucial in the metalworking industry as they enable the shaping, cutting, and forming of metal parts. These power-driven tools play a vital role in reducing the size and shape of workpieces by removing unnecessary portions through cutting, forming, or shearing.

Types of Machine Tools:

  • Shears
  • Cutters
  • Drills
  • Punches
  • Grinders
  • Presses
  • And more…

These machine tools can be controlled manually or automatically, depending on the complexity of the metalworking task at hand. They come in various forms, including metal cutting machines and metal forming machines, each designed to cater to specific fabrication needs.

machine tools

Machine Tool Function Common Uses
Shears Cutting Sheet metal fabrication, trimming
Cutters Cutting Tube and pipe fabrication, metal profiling
Drills Creating precise holes Metal component assembly, dowel placement
Punches Shaping or perforating Creating indentations, hole punching
Grinders Smoothing out surfaces Surface finishing, blade sharpening
Presses Forming and shaping Metal stamping, bending, and embossing

These machine tools are essential for a wide range of metalworking applications, including but not limited to fabrication, construction, automotive manufacturing, and aerospace engineering. The precise and efficient operation of these tools significantly contributes to the overall productivity and quality of metalworking operations.

The Most Widely Used Machines in Metalworking

In the metalworking industry, there are several machines that are widely used for cutting and shaping metal. These machines have evolved over time, allowing for the production of complex shapes with less human effort. Some of the most common machines used in metalworking include:

  • Lathes
  • Milling machines
  • Grinding machines
  • Drilling machines
  • Shaper machines
  • Broaching machines
  • Saw machines
  • Planer machines
  • Shearing machines
  • Hobbing machines
  • Drill presses

These machines offer different advantages and applications, catering to the diverse needs of metalworking professionals. Let’s take a closer look at each of these widely used machines and their roles in metal fabrication:


Lathes play a crucial role in metalworking by spinning a metal component on a horizontal axis and allowing for precise shaping and cutting. They are commonly used in artisanal and industrial settings for creating circular and symmetrical metal parts.

Milling Machines

Milling machines utilize a high-speed rotating cutter to accurately cut and shape metal components. They offer superior accuracy and surface polish, making them widely utilized in production work.

Grinding Machines

Grinding machines are abrasive machines used for smoothing out metal surfaces. They are commonly used for tasks like sharpening blades, rounding out sharp edges, or resizing metal components.

Drilling Machines

Drilling machines are essential for creating holes of varying depths and diameters in metal components. They are widely used in metal cutting machinery and come in different forms, including handheld drills, drilling machines, and drill presses.

Shaper Machines

Shaper machines use a cutting tool on a reciprocating ram to shape metal components. They are often used for creating internal or external flat, curved, or angular surfaces.

Broaching Machines

Broaching machines are used to remove material from metal parts using a toothed tool called a broach. They are used for cutting, shaping, and finishing operations.

Saw Machines

Saw machines, including circular saws and band saws, are widely used for cutting sheet metal and metal pipes. They are efficient and effective for cutting metal components to the desired dimensions.

Planer Machines

Planer machines are used to produce flat surfaces by removing material layer by layer. They are commonly used for heavy-duty machining operations.

Shearing Machines

Shearing machines are used to cut long sheets of metal into smaller pieces. They are commonly used in metal fabrication processes and offer fast and efficient cutting.

Hobbing Machines

Hobbing machines are specialized machines used for generating gears, splines, and serrations. They are widely used in the production of gearboxes and other precision components.

Drill Presses

Drill presses provide precise drilling operations by utilizing a rotating cutting tool. They are commonly used for various metalworking tasks that require accurate and controlled drilling.

Machine Advantages Applications
Lathes Accurate shaping and cutting Creating circular and symmetrical metal parts
Milling Machines Superior accuracy and surface polish Production work, manufacturing tasks
Grinding Machines Smoothing out metal surfaces Sharpening blades, resizing components
Drilling Machines Precise creation of holes Cutting holes in metal components
Shaper Machines Shaping various metal surfaces Creating flat, curved, or angular surfaces
Broaching Machines Material removal and shaping Cutting, shaping, and finishing operations
Saw Machines Efficient cutting of sheet metal and pipes Cutting metal components to desired dimensions
Planer Machines Producing flat surfaces Heavy-duty machining operations
Shearing Machines Fast and efficient cutting Cutting long sheets of metal into smaller pieces
Hobbing Machines Precision gear generation Producing gears, splines, serrations
Drill Presses Accurate and controlled drilling Precise drilling operations

These widely used machines in metalworking provide the necessary tools and capabilities for professionals in the industry to achieve precise cutting, shaping, and forming of metal components. Their versatility and efficiency contribute to the success of metal fabrication processes.

The Role of Metalworking Machines in the Industry

Metalworking machines are indispensable in the success of various metalworking industries, including factories, machine shops, and metalworking shops. These machines play a crucial role in shaping, cutting, and forming metal parts with precision, resulting in increased production rates and improved efficiency. Whether it’s fabricating parts for machinery, constructing structures, or producing intricate components, metalworking machines are essential for achieving high-quality and accurate results. The selection and proper utilization of these machines are vital to the success of metalworking operations.

Choose the Right Metal Cutting Machines

When it comes to the metalworking industry, investing in the right metal cutting machines is essential. These machines are the backbone of any metal fabrication process, allowing for precise and efficient cutting of metal components. Whether you are purchasing or utilizing these tools, it is crucial to understand the different types of metal cutting machines and their specific uses.

You have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to metal cutting machines. Lathes, saws, drills, torches, mills, grinders, and water jets are just a few examples. Each machine has its own advantages and applications in metalworking. Therefore, it is important to evaluate your project requirements and select the machine that offers the necessary precision and capabilities.

Consider the type of metal you are working with, the complexity of the cuts, and the desired finish of the final product. For intricate and precise shaping, a metal lathe or milling machine might be the right choice. If you need to make straight cuts quickly, a saw or water jet cutter could be your best option. It is also important to consider the size and space constraints of your workspace when choosing the right metal cutting machine.

By selecting the right metal cutting machines, you can enhance productivity, improve the quality of your work, and streamline the metal fabrication process. So, take the time to research and understand the capabilities of different machines before making a decision. Investing in the right metal cutting machine will pay off in the long run, enabling you to meet your project requirements and achieve optimal results.