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Types of CNC Machining Tools

CNC Machining

Precision CNC machining is a manufacturing process that uses customised computer programs to control a range of machining centres such as lathes, horizontal and vertical milling machines, drills, routers and grinders etc. designed for material removal.

CNC machining is used across a full spectrum of manufacturing processes such as CNC turning, CNC milling and CNC laser cutting to manufacture machined components.

These precision machining processes are used in many sectors of industry including aerospace, defence, medical and transport.

Many CNC machining tools combine different engineering operations and tools into a single cell and advanced machines can operate on up to five axes, laterally along the x and y-axes, longitudinally along the z-axis and rotationally about one or two axes.

Modern precision engineering firms employ a range of CNC machining tools for manufacturing complex machined components, and these can include turning centres, Swiss-style turning, bridge mill and 5-axis machines.

Discover the abilities of each CNC machining tool and the typical applications below.

Turning Centres (Lathe)

The turning centre or a lathe tool is undoubtedly the most popular. Best used for producing cylindrically shaped parts, a lathe tool comprises a tube-like workpiece to hold the workpiece and a cutting tool to remove material.
Machine tools are held against the rotating workpiece to shave away metal to achieve the desired shape and size.
The lathe can be used to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, grooving or facing.

Swiss Style Turning

Swiss Style turning is a type of lathe tool operation typically used for high-production components.
Swiss lathes speed the production of small precision parts to much higher precision and accuracy than the traditional lathe.
The machine tool design allows workpieces to spin and slide axially through a guide bushing to reduce vibration and allow far greater precision with very small components.
Swiss Style turning is fast and highly reliable and allows the production of high volumes of intricate pieces with utmost perfection.

Bridge mills & gantry machine

The functioning of the Bridge Mills and Gantry machines is similar to vertical machining tools except these machine tools are used to produce substantial parts such as automobile and aviation frames.
The use of a fixed table and a moving bridge or gantry allows huge X-axis travels and the engineering of very large components.
A gantry bridge means cutting tools along both axes can be coordinated to facilitate the cutting of complex patterns, especially when combined with CNC programming.

Metrology Machines

Metrology is the science of measurement and metrology machines can measure to astonishing degrees of accuracy.
Metrology is vital to quality control and modern global supply chains depend on accurate measurement to specified tolerances to ensure precision machined components fit perfectly and perform to the highest specifications.
It also ensures repeatability for batch processing despite small changes in the work environment that could otherwise affect the quality of machined components.
Metrology machines use new-gen 3D technology to inspect and detect any anomaly in the CNC machined parts. Advanced quality checking machines help manufacturers achieve higher accuracy level and strict tolerances in any working conditions. Greater accuracy directly translates into the reduction of rejected parts, higher margins and lower costs.

Shaper Macines

The shaper machine is used mainly for milling horizontal, vertical or flat surfaces.
Often smaller in size than most machines, a shaper tool removes metal from the surface in flat planes with a single point cutting tool held in a ram.
The machine operates in a straight or linear motion between the one-point cutting tool and the workpiece.

Broaching Machines

A broaching machine has cutting tools with many rows of teeth and is used to produce metal components quickly, usually in a single pass, and with repeatable and reliable levels of accuracy.
Broaching is often the best and quickest way to create components with precise diameters or different shaped holes such as squares or hexagons.
Broaching machines combine precision with cost and the ability to cut complex forms with high accuracy and repeatability.
The toothed tools remove excess material with rotary broaching tools used for developing circular machined parts and linear tools for cylindrical or straight products.

5-Axis Machines

5-axis machine tools use CNC systems to machine a component along five different axes simultaneously.
It enables the machining of very complex parts, which is why 5-axis is especially popular for aerospace applications and for other sectors that require highly complex machined metal components.
5-axis machining is a process that results in products with the highest levels of accuracy in record time, once programmed, and jigs and fixtures have been completed.
Another plus point with this CNC machine tool type is that it has a relatively low set-up time even for highly complex machine-tooled parts.

The scope of CNC machining

The size of machined components that can be manufactured on a particular machine is dependent on the working envelope.
The precision and versatility of modern CNC machining technology mean that CNC machined parts are used in a wide range of products manufactured from an extensive range of materials, including most metals and plastics.
More detail on the CNC Machining Process and its importance within the manufacturing industry are here: More about CNC Machining

CNC machining technology at KMF

KMF currently has three manufacturing facilities in the UK and Slovakia, Europe. Our 43,000 sq ft precision engineering facility based in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Staffordshire specialises in precision CNC horizontal, vertical and 5-axis, turning/sliding head machining and finishing of ferrous, non-ferrous materials and plastics.
Continued investment in advanced precision machining technology ensures we meet the ever-changing needs of our customers with maximum flexibility, speed and efficiency.

Our current range of CNC machining technology includes:

  • 18 CNC machining centres: Horizontal, Vertical and 5 Axis Milling Machines incl. Mazak, Brother and Mori Seiki. Working area 3000 x 800 x 700mm
  • 10 CNC Lathes including Mazak and Star with sliding head technology (ranging from 1mm to 80mm Ø through the chuck) Capacity to 300mm Ø
  • Mazak HCN5000-II Horizontal Machining centre with 12-station Palletech Automation
  • 2 CMM machines: Wenzel and Mitutoyo, PCDmis controlled

With our long history of growth and commitment to innovation and investment, this number is always growing.


If you have a CNC machining project you would like to discuss with our engineering reteam please contact us today: sales@kmf.co.uk | 01782 563020

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