What is CNC Turning

What is CNC Turning

What is CNC Turning

Jul 05, 2023

Our Turning Ability: Precision and Versatility At Its Best

Introduction: At our CNC machining manufacturer, we take pride in our extensive turning ability. With our state-of-the-art CNC turning services, we offer precision machining that surpasses industry standards. In this article, we will delve into the world of turning, exploring its definition, advantages, key considerations, typical products, and showcasing why our CNC turning services are second to none.

What is CNC Turning?

CNC Turning

CNC Turning is a manufacturing process in which bars of material are held in a chuck and rotated while a tool is fed to the piece to remove material to create the desired shape. A turret (shown center), with tooling attached is programmed to move to the bar of raw material and remove material to create the programmed result. This is also called “subtraction machining” since it involves material removal.

CNC turning center

What Is the Process of Turning?

Turning is the name given to the manufacturing process where bars of raw material is held and rotated at high speed. As the piece rotates, a cutting tool is fed to the piece, which works at the material, cutting away to create the desired shape. Unlike other cutting styles where the cutting tools themselves move and spin, in this case, the workpiece is rotated during the cutting process. CNC Turning is commonly used for cylindrical shaped workpieces, however, it can be used for square or hexagonal-shaped raw materials. The workpiece is held in place by a ‘chuck’. The' chuck' spins at varying RPMs (rotations per minute).

Often the turning process is under constant supervision and adjustment. Meticulous and exact results are possible due to the lathe being consistently monitored by a computer program. Modern CNC Turning machines have various tools, spindles, and speed capabilities. Additionally, the different sizes and shapes of the cutting tools themselves mean a wide range of geometries are possible. Tubular and circular shapes benefit the most from CNC Turning techniques.

Advantages of Turning

  • Precision and Accuracy: Turning offers exceptional precision, allowing us to achieve tight tolerances and superior surface finishes. Our advanced CNC turning equipment, coupled with skilled operators, ensures that each component meets your exact specifications, eliminating the need for additional secondary operations.

  • Versatility: CNC turning offers immense versatility in terms of materials. We can work with various materials, including metals like aluminum, steel, brass, and exotic alloys, as well as plastics and composites. This versatility enables us to cater to a wide range of industry applications.

  • Efficient Production: Turning is known for its efficient production capabilities. With the ability to handle high volumes of production, we can significantly reduce lead times and meet your demanding project deadlines. Our automated CNC turning process minimizes manual labor and delivers consistently high-quality products at a faster turnaround. 

  • CNC Turning is best if you are looking to create fast and repeated symmetrical or cylindrical parts with a high production volume. CNC Turning can produce parts of high quality and an extremely smooth finish. CNC turning is also capable of: Drilling, Boring, Reaming, Taper turning.

Our CNC Turning Process

All of the work can be completed from one side if the CNC turning machine has only one turret, but some of our turning centers have a main spindle and sub-spindle for even faster operation. With this configuration, the main spindle partially machines the workpiece, which is then moved to the sub-spindle to complete the job on the other side of the part. The speed of CNC turning operations makes it an ideal process for large production runs with short lead times. If the center has both tuning and milling capabilities, such as the one above, the rotation can be stopped to allow for milling out of other shapes. The CNC turning manufacturing procedures can be depicted as:
  • The starting material, though usual round, can be other shapes such as squares or hexagons.
  • Depending on the bar feeder, the bar length can vary. This affects how much handling is required for volume jobs.
  • CNC lathes or turning centers have tooling mounted on a turret which is computer-controlled. The more tools that that the turret can hold, the more options are available for complexities on the part.
  • CNC’s with “live” tooling options, can stop the bar rotation and add additional features such as drilled holes, slots and milled surfaces.
  • Some CNC turning centers have one spindle, allowing work to be done all from one side, while other turning centers, such as the one shown above, have two spindles, a main and sub-spindle. A part can be partially machined on the main spindle, moved to the sub-spindle and have additional work done to the other side this configuration.
  • There are many different kinds of CNC turning centers with various types of tooling options, spindle options, outer diameter limitations as well as power and speed capabilities that affect the types of parts that can be economically made on it.

Our Advantages:

  • Cutting-Edge Equipment: Our CNC machining factory is equipped with top-of-the-line turning machinery. From high-precision lathes to multi-axis turning centers, our equipment ensures exceptional accuracy and repeatability.

  • Skilled Machinists: Behind our cutting-edge machinery are our skilled machinists with years of experience in CNC turning. Their expertise allows us to fulfill complex turning requirements, intricate geometries, and achieve the highest standards of quality in every project.

  • Quality Assurance: Quality is paramount at our CNC machining manufacturer. Our rigorous quality control measures verify and validate each turning operation, ensuring that your components meet or exceed your expectations.

  • Customer-Centric Approach: Our team is committed to delivering outstanding customer service. We work closely with you to understand your requirements, provide expert advice, and address any concerns or questions you may have. We aim to build lasting partnerships by consistently delivering excellent products and meeting project deadlines.


Is my part a good fit for CNC turning?

While a lot of factors go into determining if a part can be made most cost-effectively on a specific CNC turning center, some things we look at are:
  • How many parts are needed short-term and long-term? CNC turning centers are generally good for prototypes to short-run volumes.
  • What is the largest OD on the part ? For the CNC turning centers at Pioneer Service, the maximum OD for colleted (bar feed-capable) parts is 2.5.”
  • Parts over 2.5″ OD are chucked individually, which depending on volume, can contribute to price.
  • Parts under 1.25″ OD and medium to high volume may be a better fit for the Swiss screw machines.
  • If a part can be made both on the CNC turning center and on a 32 mm Swiss Screw Machine factors such as projected volume and lead-time are critical for making the best call on which to use.

Application of CNC Turning Process
When it comes to cnc turning, a lot of products and industires are involved, including:
  • Fittings and connectors: CNC turned fittings and connectors play a vital role in industries like plumbing, HVAC, hydraulics, and pneumatics, ensuring secure connections and efficient fluid or gas flow.

  • Aerospace components: CNC turning plays a critical role in producing aerospace components, such as engine parts, landing gear components, aircraft fittings, and actuators. The high precision and reliability achieved through CNC turning are crucial for the demanding aerospace industry.

  • Shafts and axles: Precision-turned shafts and axles are crucial components in various industries, such as automotive, machinery, and aerospace, providing rotational support and power transmission.

  • Bushings and bearings: CNC turning allows for the precise machining of bushings and bearings used in applications that require smooth and friction-free movement, such as automotive engines, industrial machinery, and rotating equipment.

  • Valves and valve components: CNC turning is widely used in the production of intricate valve components, including valve bodies, stems, discs, and seat rings, enabling precise control of fluid or gas flow in various industries, such as oil and gas, chemical processing, and power generation.

  • Surgical and medical implants: CNC turning is essential in the manufacturing of surgical and medical implants, ensuring the precision and biocompatibility required for orthopedic implants, dental components, spinal implants, and more.

  • Electronic connectors: CNC turning enables the production of precise electronic connectors, ensuring secure and reliable connections in electronic devices, telecommunications equipment, and computer systems.

What is the difference between CNC Milling and Turning?
There are some fundamental core differences between CNC Milling and Turning. The core mechanisms differ, meaning some processes will be more suited to milling or turning, respectively. 
Factors that will affect this include:
  1. Shape and size of the part
  2. Material in use
  3. The volume of parts required
  4. Finish required
  5. Budget
In deciding which CNC machining process is suited to what design, the biggest determining factor is the part shape followed by the volume of parts needing to be produced.


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