Types of Machining Operations:Classifications and Differences

CNC machinery being machined - Types of machining operations

Machining is key to manufacturing. It includes many techniques for cutting and shaping materials. They make accurate parts and assemblies. These operations are split into two categories. The categories are traditional and non-traditional. Traditional methods include turning, drilling, and milling. Non-traditional methods include EDM, laser cutting, and chemical machining.

The importance of machining operations in modern manufacturing cannot be overstated. It supports many industries, from aerospace to consumer goods. It’s also key to making precise, quality products. In the following article, Yonglihao Machinery will take you through the classification and differences of machining operations. It will do so in detail. To help you choose the right machining method.

Table of Contents

Conventional vs. Non-Conventional Machining Processes

As we mentioned above, machining has two main types: conventional and non-conventional. Each type has its use. So, we pick the best method based on the material and part’s needs.

Traditional Machining

Traditional machining is the physical removal of material by cutting. It is also known as subtractive manufacturing. It is used to create the desired part shape and size. This machining type involves operations. They include turning, milling, drilling, grinding, and sawing. This machining technique is now widely used in manufacturing and is based on direct physical contact for material removal.

Turning: A lathe removes material by rotating the workpiece against a cutting tool. It’s good for making cylindrical parts.

Milling: A milling machine cuts the workpiece with a rotating cutter. It is good for processing complex parts.

Drilling: Drills work by rotating. They drill holes in a workpiece. This is a basic machining method in manufacturing.

CNC lathe workspace undergoing machining-Traditional Machining

Non-traditional machining

Non-traditional machining techniques are different. They do not involve cutting. Instead, they use types of energy (like, electrical, chemical, light, etc.) to remove material and make the part shape and size. Such technologies include electric discharge machining (EDM), laser cutting, and chemical machining.

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM): The high temperatures from electrical sparks erode the material. They work for processing hard materials and parts with complex shapes.

Laser Cutting: The laser beam has a high energy density. It is used for precision cutting and engraving.

Chemical processing: It removes materials through chemical reactions. It’s for processing ultra-thin, ultra-fine, or hard-to-process materials.

Non-traditional machining tech is developing. It offers new ways to handle hard-to-machine materials. It also lets us do high-precision machining of complex parts. Non-traditional machining processes are different from traditional ones. They can often be done without touching the workpiece. This can reduce the stress and heat on the workpiece and improve machining quality and speed.

Electro discharge machining (EDM) in non-traditional machining is at work.

Detailed Classification of Machining Operations

Turning: Types, Materials, and Applications

Turning is one of the most common machining methods. It removes material by rotating the workpiece and using cutting tools to shape and size it. Turning operations can be divided into types like longitudinal turning, transverse turning, grooving, and thread turning. This way of machining is good for many materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, ceramics, and magnesium alloys. Turning is widely used in the manufacture of shaft parts, threads, and conical parts, among others. If you need a reliable CNC turning service, then Yonglihao Machinery’s CNC turning is the best choice.

CNC turning work process-Yonglihao Machinery

Drilling: Importance, Types, and Comparison of Drilling and Tapping

Drilling is a machining method used to create round holes in a workpiece. It is achieved by cutting the material with a rotating drill bit. Types of drilling operations include straight-hole drilling, deep-hole drilling, and reaming. Drilling and tapping differ. Drilling makes holes. Tapping adds threads to holes. Drilling is a preliminary step in many manufacturing processes and is critical to part assembly.

CNC drilling process-Yonglihao Machinery

Milling: Operation, Tools, and Comparison to Other Processes

Milling removes material with a rotating cutter. It is good for machining many surfaces and shapes. Milling operations include flat milling, vertical milling, curve milling, and keyway milling. Milling has unique advantages over other machining processes. It’s for machining complex shapes and achieving high accuracy. You can select from a wide range of milling tools. They include end mills, ball end mills, and face mills. You should choose them based on the needs of the machining job.

CNC Milling Work Process-Yonglihao Machinery

Planning, broaching, and sawing: technologies and applications

Planing is a machining method for cutting large flat surfaces. It is good for surfaces that need further scraping. Like planning, broaching is a method for making complex holes and profiles. But, it is done by pulling a broach with a multi-toothed cutting tool. Sawing is different. It is for making short sections from bars and profiles. It uses sawing tools to cut the material to the desired length. These methods are effective for certain jobs. These jobs include making keyways, square holes, large flat surfaces, and cutting materials.

CNC planing - machining operations

Advantages and Disadvantages of Machining Operations

Machining is central to manufacturing. Each method has its own good and bad points. Choosing the right machining process requires considering many factors. These include material properties, accuracy, productivity, and cost.

Machining ProcessAdvantagesDisadvantages
TurningWide range of materials can be processed/ High production efficiency/Equipment is widely availableMaterial waste/High equipment cost/Limited to rotational parts
DrillingHigh accuracy for holes/Simple operation/Adaptable to almost all materialsLimited hole size without further processing/ Depth limitations
MillingBroad range of applications/- High precision/Variety of cutting toolsHigh equipment cost/Requires skilled operation

Decision-making factors for selecting a machining process

When selecting a machining process, the following factors need to be considered:

Material properties: Choose the right machining method. Do it based on the material’s hardness, toughness, and heat treatment properties.

Machining accuracy and surface quality requirements: Making high-accuracy and quality parts may require specific machining methods.

Machining efficiency and cost: Choose the cheapest machining method. Choose based on the production batch and cost budget.

Part shape and size: Complex shapes or large-sized parts may require special machining equipment or techniques.

Considering all these factors. The best machining method will fit the specific needs. It can be selected to ensure quality and efficiency.

Formed parts manufactured by Yonglihao Machinery through machining.


In this article, we have explored many aspects of machining in detail. This includes a breakdown of operations like turning, drilling, milling, planing, broaching, and sawing. We also discussed the pros and cons of these machining operations. We talked about how to choose the right machining method for your production needs.

If you need reliable CNC machining services, choose Yonglihao Machinery. We have the expertise and technology to provide you with customised machining solutions. 


The choice between conventional and non-conventional machining processes is influenced by several factors​​​​​​​​:

Material Compatibility: Conventional machining may struggle with hard, brittle, or heat-sensitive materials. Non-conventional methods excel with these materials.

Complex Geometries: Non-conventional techniques can more easily handle intricate patterns and complex shapes.

Surface Finish and Tolerances: Non-conventional methods can achieve finer finishes and tighter tolerances, ideal for critical applications.

Heat-Affected Zone (HAZ): Non-conventional processes, such as laser cutting, minimize HAZ, beneficial for heat-sensitive materials.

Speed and Efficiency: Conventional methods are faster. But, non-conventional methods offer precision and versatility. They are for specific applications.

Material type heavily affects the choice of machining. This is due to factors like hardness, brittleness, and heat sensitivity. These properties might limit conventional machining. So, non-conventional techniques like EDM, laser cutting, or waterjet cutting are better for hard-to-machine materials.

Yes, unusual machining processes are generally better at handling complex shapes. They are better at handling intricate geometries than conventional methods. Laser cutting and waterjet cutting can make detailed patterns with high precision. They do this without directly touching the workpiece. They are great for shaping complex shapes.

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