CNC turning is a machining method whereby a pointed cutting tool is fed parallel onto the surface of material that is being rotated. Often a process performed in a machine shop, the rotation is done with a lathe, a machining tool that dates back to ancient Egypt. This particular type of machine is used to secure and spin the part that is being machined.
With a lathe, material is removed and shaped with a simple single-point cutting tool. For this to be accomplished, dual axis movement is required, whether for making angles, curves, or a single line. With CNC turning, different complex shapes are created. For instance, materials can be contoured, filleted, tapered, threaded, and more.
Initially, CNC turning consisted of spinning a lathe used in conjunction with a trained machinist who applied the cutting tool to the material involved in the machining process. Thanks to technological advancements turning processes, lathes, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) has evolved.
Today, the primary role of machinists is to program codes into the computer that tell machines what to do. Beyond that, the cutting tool is now held securely in place with a fully automated system. As a result, CNC turning aids in designs, which have been preprogrammed. However, every turn is extremely precise and to an exact tolerance. In addition, modern CNC machining can create a broad range of shapes to include grooved, straight, curved, conical, and more.
CNC turning offered today is relatively sophisticated, which means machinists need to complete specific education and training. Keep in mind that there are varying levels of education based on the type of work that easy person performs. However, part of education involves knowing what a lathe is and its history, different types of turning centers, common components of a turning center, setup methods, types of tool holders used, common inner and outer diameter operations, and more.
With the right education, there are many more opportunities for turning and machining in a CNC shop. As with all machining, it is essential to possess appropriate knowledge not only to ensure every part is perfectly manufactured but also for safety and overall customer satisfaction. With CNC turning ability there are often more and more opportunities.