Machining processes

Machining is a process of removal. Material is taken away progressively in order to create a part. Manufacturers can customize the design and create unique shapes and sizes using a variety of existing machining processes and machine tools.

It can be difficult to understand the various techniques used and their roles, so our industrial machining specialists would like to introduce you to them.

The 3 most common machining processes

Machining operations are classified into 3 main processes:

  • Turning
  • Drilling
  • Milling

Each machining operation requires a specific machine tool. There are also other operations that fall into various categories, including boring, sawing, shaping and broaching.

1st machining process: turning


The machine tool rotates at a specific speed so that the blades cut parts of the workpiece. The objective is to create a cylindrical or conical part.

There are several types of turning, and each element of the process can be customized to meet different design needs.

This machining process can be used to create a wide variety of finished products, since it is possible to work both inside and outside the part:

  • Internal turning: jig boring, centering, boring and grooving
  • External turning: facing, straight turning, bevelling, grooving and threading

Turning can be done manually or with the help of a computer.

Lathes, the main tools for this machining technique

The lathes hold the workpiece along a fixed axis and rotate it—the machine tool is held steady while the workpiece rotates. Machinists then apply cutting tools to remove material and create a smooth, flawless end product.

2nd machining process: milling


This is an extremely flexible machining process because the cutting tools can perform a wide variety of movements. In milling processes, the workpiece is attached to a moving work table that adjusts to direct it towards fixed or moving cutting tools.

Milling is usually performed as a secondary process on a workpiece that has already been machined. It helps refine the details of the workpiece and serves as a “finishing touch.”

The milling machine

A wide variety of tools can be used for this process, but the ones that are designed for this purpose are called milling machines. These machine tools come in different shapes and sizes, and the placement of flutes and teeth can vary, enabling the creation of complex designs.

Milling machines are generally used either to rough out a surface, which involves removing excess material to get closer to the final product, or to finish a product with cuts that are finer and more complex.

3rd machining process: drilling


With drilling, holes are made through the material of the industrial part. This type of machining is used to prepare the parts for the assembly of different components. Each material has recommended tools and settings to create smooth, easy-to-clean holes.

Drill presses, the machine tools preferred for drilling

Drill presses are the perfect cutting tools for drilling through workpieces and creating round holes of various sizes in different materials.

It is often assumed that drilling can only be done on soft materials such as wood. This is incorrect—harder materials like metal can also be drilled. As long as the tool is harder than the workpiece, it should be able to “scrape away” the material to create a hole. But only an experienced technician will be able to choose the right drilling equipment!

Other machining processes

  • Boring: Boring is a machining method that involves the use of a single-point cutting tool or boring head to enlarge an existing hole in a workpiece. This process is complementary to drilling, which is used to create the initial hole in the workpiece.
  • Sawing: Sawing is a technique that cuts through a workpiece. The tool used, the saw, has a set of closely spaced teeth. Sawing is used to separate workpieces into two or more parts, or to remove an unnecessary section of a workpiece.
  • Shaping: Sometimes called grooving, shaping is a machining process in which the cutting tool rotates while the workpiece remains stationary. Shapers are generally used to cut shapes inside industrial parts, such as grooves, slots, squares, hexagons and straight flutes.
  • Broaching: Broaching is a machining process that uses a toothed tool called a broach to remove material in a precise, consistent way. The main feature of the broach is the height of its teeth, which increases progressively along the tool, unlike a saw, for example. The broach has three separate zones: roughing, semi-finishing and finishing.

High-quality machining with Les Entreprises HARtech

Les Entreprises HARtech have experience machining and manufacturing machine components, castings, forgings, extrusions and tapping for a wide range of industries.Contact us today to request a quote for your project or to learn more about the different machining processes at our company located in Saint-Laurent, Quebec.

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