Common Cutting Tools Used in Machine Shops

Do you work in the machine tool industry? What kind of tools do you use on a daily basis? There are a lot of industry-specific terms and tools that it can seem daunting to be familiar with all the necessary tools and their functions. That’s why in this blog we wanted to lay out for you some tools that you will use in the machine tool industry and their functions.

One of the biggest categories of tools in this industry is cutting tools.

This includes various tools, which we will go over below, but before we look at cutting tools, let’s first lay out the five basic types of CNC machines.

  1. CNC Milling Machine.
    These are generally considered the most common CNC machine in use today. They use a programming language called G code to cut pieces of metal or other material into specific shapes and sizes.
  2. CNC Routers.
    Like milling machines, routers can cut pieces of metal or other material. They are also used for cutting prototype models and advanced shapes.
  3. CNC Lathes.
    Lathes are primarily used to achieve even more precision when cutting materials. Lathes are spinning machines and their movement can achieve cuts of 3D shapes and moulds.
  4. Plasma Cutters.
    Plasma cutters utilize a plasma torch to cut heavy metals such as steel. The hot plasma melts metal being cut by the machine.
  5. Electrical Discharge CNC Machines.
    These machines can be virtual or wire machines. They utilize electric sparks to cut through materials.

Those are the five main types of CNC machines–now let’s look at common cutting tools you may use around the machine shop.

First of all, you should know that all cutting tools serve the same basic purpose: to cut through a metal or other material.

Of course, there are nuances of how they do this, the time it takes, and specific applications.

First we have carbon steel tools. These tools are inexpensive and generally used for low-speed operations. They are typically used as part of twist drills, forming tools, milling cutters, and turning.

There are also ceramic cutting tools. These are generally used when finished products require special polish.

Another categorization of cutting tools is cemented carbide. These tools are designed for high-speed applications. They are extremely durable tools and can withstand excessive high temperatures. They are also suitable for products that require a high-quality surface finish. They might also be referred to as diamond tools, cubic boron nitride, sialon, and cermets.

End mills are yet another kind of cutting tool. They are used for removing materials. They function somewhat like more versatile drill bits. They can include ball nose mills, V-bit mills, straight flute end mills, and down-cut and up-cut end mills.

There are also twist drills. These tools have a unique design of two flutes and two cutting edges which allows coolants to quickly reach the point where cutting is taking place. These tools are great for lowering production costs and performing operations with top-notch finishing.

Yet another cutting tool is the fly cutter, and no, they do not sever insect bodies, although they probably could. These single point cutters are part of a mill and provide excellent surface finishes.

Although this is technically not a CNC cutting tool, cutting fluids and coolants are also important in the machine shop, so we have included them on our list. These fluids and coolants serve several purposes. They flush material chips away from the cutting zone, reduce thermal deformation in a workpiece, improve the tool life, and improve surface finish.

Are there any other cutting tools you use if you work with machine tools? Let us know below!

by Acoem contributor | September 6, 2022
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