Lathe equipment in the factory manufacturing metal structures and machinesTurning is one of a variety of subtractive manufacturing processes used to create detailed parts and components. In computer numerical controlled (CNC) turning, this automated process relies on a chuck to hold and rotate bars of material. As this occurs, a tool is fed to the piece that removes excess material to develop features in accordance with a programmed design. 

CNC technologies have enabled manufacturers to automate a variety of complex machining processes. While manual machining requires highly skilled machinists who can follow designs, CNC machining offers superior process accuracy and better part-to-part repeatability thanks to its ability to follow digital Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) instructions generated from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files.

Automated CNC technologies have enabled the mass production of part and components within very close tolerance limits, ensuring that parts generated from the same design may be used interchangeably in the assembly of automobiles, aerospace equipment, industrial machines, and much more. Lower defect rates and faster production ultimately lower the per-unit cost of each part, offering significant savings on high-volume production.

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What is the CNC Turning Process? 

First, the operator inputs all the necessary dimensions and variables into a CAM program based on input from the CAD file. The actual turning process begins with bar stock material, which is loaded into a CNC lathe or CNC turning center. The machine then rotates a workpiece at high speeds while a cutting tool removes excess material. The cutting tool moves along the workpiece on multiple axes, generating cuts with accurate depths and diameters.

CNC Milling vs. CNC Turning

CNC milling and CNC turning are both subtractive manufacturing processes used to cut material away from a stock workpiece to realize a pre-programmed design. They differ significantly in methodology, and each is used for specific part types:

  • CNC milling. CNC milling rotates cutting tools on multiple axes around a stationary workpiece to remove material in accordance with the specified design. Milling facilitates the creation of a complex or unique part shapes using a wide range of cutting processes.
  • CNC turning. CNC turning rotates the workpiece itself on a lathe while the cutting tool or tools move along the rotating piece to make cuts. Turning and lathing are primarily used to create cylindrical pieces, such as shafts and rods. While CNC lathes are typically limited specifically to turning-related cutting processes, CNC turning centers offer a broad range of process options.

Types of CNC Turning

CNC turning is used to produce a variety of goods. Examples of CNC-turned goods we produce include engine pistons and high-quality ball bearings. The primary types of CNC turning include: 

  • Straight/cylindrical turning – Uniformly reduces the overall workpiece diameter in advance of more precision cutting operations or to create basic cylindrical parts.
  • Taper turning – Creates a cylindrical shape that gradually increases/decreases in diameter from one end to the other. 
  • Spherical generation – Creates a spherical shape around a fixed axis of revolution or uses a semicircular tool that lowers the diameter of the material to zero to produce a perfect sphere.
  • Grooving – Uses a shaped tool pressed into the workpiece to form a narrow cavity.
  • Parting – The component is gouged to separate a completed piece from the original stock.
  • Knurling – Cuts a serrated pattern into the workpiece.
  • Threading – Cuts in a helical path, creating grooves that allow the workpiece to screw into a mated piece with matching threads.

An infographic explaining the different types of CNC turning

Industries That Use CNC Turning

At PEP Manufacturing, we have provided CNC turning services to businesses in a variety of applications and industries. Some of these include:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Consumer goods
  • Electronic components
  • Firearms
  • Heavy equipment
  • Hydraulic cylinders
  • Locomotive engine parts (diesel)
  • Military
  • Oil and gas
  • Toolmaking
  • Transportation

CNC Turning Capabilities

Metalworking CNCWe have multiple CNC machines at our disposal, ensuring that we can handle parts of nearly any complexity. Our fleet of equipment includes:

  • 2-axis Mori Seiki Dura Turn 2550 (with automated robotic loading)
  • 2-axis Mori Seiki Frontier L-II
  • 2-axis Doosan Lynx 2100
  • 2-axis Mori Seiki NL1500
  • 4-axis Mori Seiki NL2500Y/700 Turning & Milling Center
  • 4-axis Doosan Lynx 2100 LYB Turning & Milling Center

There are a variety of benefits to working with PEP Manufacturing. Some of our capabilities include:

  • Reverse engineering. We can reverse engineer existing parts to create a design and identify areas for improvement.
  • Wide volume range. We handle volumes ranging from prototypes and single parts to large orders of up to 10,000 pieces on certain products.
  • Rapid turnaround times. Our turnaround times are typically within two weeks and we ship nationally within the United States, though local customers are welcome to pick up orders at their discretion.
  • Quality management. We implement strict quality control practices throughout the build process and before shipment. We are ISO 9001:2015-certified for quality management.
  • Certified for government contracts. We are registered for service as a government contractor. Our CAGE code is #3HTG7.

PEP Manufacturing: Your CNC Turning Experts

At PEP Manufacturing, we put the customer’s needs first throughout all phases of development and manufacturing. We prioritize quick turnaround times, stringent quality control, and efficient work. We have prioritized continuous improvement in our operation for more than 20 years, and we are constantly making improvements to reduce per-unit costs and cycle times for our customers.

For more information about our CNC capabilities or any of our other services, please contact us or request a quote today.