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Types of Machining Operations: Classifications and Differences

close up of non conventional laser cutting on lathe showing machining operations

What if you could take your machining knowledge to the next level in just a few minutes?

Whether you are a professional or hobbyist, there is much to learn about basic machining operations. For example, many don’t fully understand how the conventional machining process differs from the non-conventional machining process.

Learning the finer points of machining operations and the technology involved often takes years, but we have decided to simplify things. Want to learn everything you can about different machining operations to take your knowledge to the next level? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know!

What Is a Conventional Machining Process?

The most traditional form of machining is the conventional machining process. This refers to the process by which you use direct contact to remove the excess materials from the pieces you are working on.

close up of datron machine conventional machining process

The traditional hallmark of conventional machining is that the cutting tool makes direct contact with the workpiece. In different types of machining operations (such as the non-conventional processes), you can use various methods to achieve the same results.

Examples of Conventional Machining Processes

There are many distinct kinds of conventional machining processes used to suit the changing needs of various machining operations. The most popular conventional machining process is turning which is when you use a stationary cutting tool and its lathe to cut away excess material while the workpiece is rotating. This differs from milling, where the extra material is removed from a workpiece via rotating cutters.

Another example is drilling, where a specialized drill bits remove excess material from the holes as you drill into them. You may also need to saw different materials down into shorter shapes. Some prefer utilizing a CNC machining operation to help ensure exact precision when making each cut.

There are other conventional machining processes, that include grinding, planing, and broaching. By experimenting with different methods, machines, and materials, you can discover what works best for each task.

Advantages of Conventional Machining Process

Conventional machining processes have remained popular for so long largely because they bring a lot of advantages. For example, simpler machines can be more cost-effective because they do not come with any highly technological features or any automated options.

Another advantage is that it can be easier for you and others (such as employees) to learn and use the machinery involved in these processes. Reducing the learning curve of machining means that you can save time and money on each major project.

Finally, you will be able to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are using technology that has proven to be tried and true for decades. You will also be able to find a machine that is tailored to the needs of each project.

Climb Milling vs. Conventional Milling

What Is a Non-Conventional Machining Process?

Non-conventional machining (also known as non-traditional machining) has one noticeably big difference from the conventional machining process: there is no direct contact between the tool and the workpiece. As such, they have plenty of processes to remove excess material in both primary and secondary machining operations.

close up of datron probe on lathe showing non conventional machining process

For many, deciding whether to use a conventional machining process or a non-conventional machining process is simply a matter of preference. It is also worth noting that machining processes that avoid contact also avoid wear and tear, helping to increase the lifetime of the machine is run properly (more on this later).

Examples of Non-Conventional Machining Processes

There are many types of non-conventional machining processes you can use if you want to shape and remove materials without contacting the workpiece. For example, electrical discharge machining erodes unwanted materials allowing you to accurately machine even the most challenging workpieces and materials.

As the name implies, chemical machining is a process where you dip a workpiece into a container, allowing a chemical to remove unwanted material. It’s also possible to use abrasive jet machining to remove those same unwanted materials from a workpiece using various abrasive materials.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to non-conventional machining processes; other techniques include ultrasonic machining, laser beam machining, and electronic beam machining. As with more conventional machining processes, your decision of which unconventional process to use will depend on the exact nature of the materials you need to work on and the type of materials you are using.

Advantages of a Non-Conventional Machining Process

Most of the biggest advantages of non-conventional machining processes have to do with the types of materials you are trying to machine. For example, such processes are great when you are working with very brittle material that might otherwise become damaged through conventional machining processes.

Similarly, non-conventional machining processes are better suited for harder materials that conventional processes might struggle with. In many cases, non-conventional processes allow for more precise machining with intricate designs. This may be difficult to achieve on traditional machinery.

Relatively speaking, most non-conventional machining processes are more environmentally friendly than conventional processes. For those looking to reduce their environmental footprint, this type of machining may be the best fit. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, these processes can potentially save you money. Due to the lack of contact with the workpiece you save on wear and tear over prolonged periods of use.  

Stencil Milling vs Laser & Chemical Etching

What Is the Difference Between a Conventional and Unconventional Machining Process?

With so many options available, it may be challenging to determine which machining process is best for your needs.

When in doubt, it is important to remember the fundamental differences between conventional and unconventional machining. Conventional machining refers to a tool coming in direct contact with the workpiece to remove excess materials and shape the piece. With non-conventional machining, the materials are removed using various techniques that do not require a sharp tool to carve out the design.

Embracing User-Friendly Technology

The biggest factor that contributes to an easy job setup and smooth machining truly has to do with which machine is being used. Some machines may be more difficult to master if they are not user-friendly. This increases the time needed for a project as well as the likelihood of a part coming out wrong.

The solution is quite simple: Use machinery that offers the versatility you need while still being extremely user-friendly. Fortunately, DATRON specializes in creating CNC machines you can learn in a matter of hours. Not only will this save time on projects but will also allow companies to hire novice machinists to run these machines with ease and precision.

Get the Best Machine for Your Operations Today!

Now you know the different types of machining operations, including their important classifications and differences. Once you have decided which machining process you will use, do you know where you can get the best CNC machine and friendliest customer service?

Here at DATRON, we’re the masters of machining, and we’re ready for you to join the club. Ready to get started with reliable, high-tech German-engineered machines? In that case, all you have to do is contact us today!

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