Exploring 5 Key Techniques in CNC Machining: Detailed Methods for Surface Treatment

In the exciting world of CNC machining, knowing the various methods for processing part surfaces is essential. Each technique has its unique perks and is perfect for different scenarios. Let’s dive into some conventional methods of machining part surfaces, focusing on rotational and planar surfaces, with a touch of fun and practicality.

Machining Rotational Surfaces

Turning Outer Cylindrical Surfaces

Turning is one of the most popular machining processes. It involves spinning the workpiece while a cutting tool moves in a straight line to shape the material. This method is fantastic for creating cylindrical parts and can achieve excellent accuracy and surface finish.

Drilling, Reaming, Boring, and Honing Holes

Hole machining is a crucial step in CNC machining, and there are several cool methods to do it:

  • Drilling: Using a twist drill to create holes, usually less than 80mm in diameter. You can drill on lathes, drilling machines, or boring machines. Drilling is straightforward but comes with challenges like poor rigidity, guidance, chip removal, and high cutting temperatures.
  • Reaming: Reaming uses a reamer to enlarge existing holes, improving dimensional accuracy and surface finish. It’s typically a semi-finishing process for holes, perfect for enhancing drilled, cast, or forged holes.
  • Boring: Boring uses a single-point cutting tool to further process holes that have been forged, drilled, or cast. Boring machines are the primary equipment for this process, capable of machining large holes and ensuring the shape, size, and positional accuracy of the holes.
  • Honing: Honing is the final touch for holes, providing high precision and surface quality.

Grinding and Finishing

Grinding is used to achieve a high degree of surface finish and dimensional accuracy. It involves an abrasive wheel removing small amounts of material. For even finer finishes, you can use polishing techniques like honing and lapping.

Challenges in Hole Machining

Machining holes isn’t always a walk in the park:

  • Tool Rigidity: Drills and reamers can deflect, especially in deep hole machining.
  • Heat and Chip Removal: The confined space within a hole makes it tricky to dissipate heat and remove chips, affecting surface quality and precision.
  • Tool Wear: Maintaining the precision of cutting tools is crucial, as tool wear directly impacts hole accuracy.

Ensuring Dimensional Accuracy in Holes

Different methods ensure the dimensional accuracy of holes:

  1. Drilling: The initial step, often followed by more precise operations.
  2. Reaming: Used to refine the size and finish of the hole.
  3. Boring: Ensures alignment and precision, especially for larger or deeper holes.

A Handy Table of Hole Machining Methods and Their Characteristics

MethodAccuracy (IT)Surface Roughness (Ra, μm)Application
DrillingIT13-IT1150-12.5General purpose, initial hole creation
ReamingIT10-IT96.3-3.2Refining hole size and finish
BoringIT8-IT71.6-0.8High precision and alignment
HoningIT7-IT50.2-0.025Final surface finish, high precision
GrindingIT6-IT50.8-0.2High precision, hard materials
LappingIT5-IT30.1-0.008Ultra-fine surface finish and precision

Machining Planar Surfaces

Turning, Planing, and Milling

  1. Turning: Used for machining the end faces of cylindrical parts. It’s perfect for achieving high flatness and parallelism. Dimensional tolerance is generally IT8IT7, with a surface roughness of Ra 6.31.6.
  2. Planing: Ideal for large, flat surfaces. The workpiece moves back and forth under a stationary cutting tool. Common machines include the shaper and the planer. Planing is adaptable but has lower productivity and precision, with dimensional tolerance of IT9IT8 and surface roughness Ra 6.31.6.
  3. Milling: One of the most versatile methods for machining flat surfaces. It uses rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece moving along multiple axes. Milling can be categorized into end milling and peripheral milling. End milling provides higher quality and productivity, while peripheral milling is more adaptable for various features.

Grinding and Surface Finishing

Grinding is essential for finishing flat surfaces with high precision. For even better finishes, polishing methods like lapping can be applied. These processes are critical for applications requiring extremely smooth and flat surfaces, such as gauge blocks and optical components.


Used for precision finishing of flat surfaces, grinding machines include horizontal and vertical surface grinders. Grinding methods include surface grinding and cylindrical grinding. Surface grinding is preferred for small, high-precision parts, while cylindrical grinding is suitable for larger, less precise parts.

Lapping and Scraping

  • Lapping: Lapping is a surface finishing method usually performed after grinding. It provides high accuracy and surface quality, with tolerances up to IT5IT3 and surface roughness Ra 0.10.008 μm.
  • Scraping: Scraping is a manual process using a scraper to remove thin layers of metal from the workpiece surface. It is often used after precision planing and milling to achieve high-quality surfaces with Ra 0.8~0.2 μm.

Machining Complex Surfaces

Complex surface machining includes forming surfaces, thread machining, and gear machining.

Forming Surface Machining

Forming surface machining uses forming tools or specific relative motions between the tool and the workpiece. Common methods include forming tools and template methods, suitable for a wide range of sizes.

Thread Machining

Thread machining includes tapping, threading, milling, grinding, and rolling. The precision and surface quality of threads directly affect their performance in connections and transmissions.

Gear Machining

Gear machining primarily involves hobbing, shaping, and gear finishing. The selection of gear machining methods depends on the required precision, which is categorized into 12 levels. Common gear machining methods include shaving, honing, and grinding.

Selecting the Right Machining Process

Choosing the right machining process depends on various factors, including the material, size, and required precision of the part. Here are some practical tips:

  1. For Large Flat Surfaces: Planing and milling are excellent choices. Planing is great for very large parts, while milling offers versatility and precision for medium to large parts.
  2. For High Precision: Grinding and honing are ideal for achieving tight tolerances and smooth finishes.
  3. For High Volume Production: Methods like broaching (for holes) and high-speed milling can significantly boost productivity.

By understanding these conventional machining methods and their specific applications, you can make informed decisions that enhance the efficiency and quality of your CNC machining projects. Remember, the right method can make all the difference in achieving the desired precision and surface finish for your parts.

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Want.Net Technical Team

Want.Net Technical Team

The Want.Net Technical Team has diverse members with extensive education and training in CNC machining. They prioritize precision, efficiency, and innovation to provide high-quality manufacturing solutions globally.

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