What is a Machine Shop?
What is a Machine Shop?

What is a Machine Shop?

The term “machine shop” conjures up thoughts of a place where machines are produced. However, the definition is different. A machine shop is a location, company, or room where machining is carried out. Machining involves cutting off raw materials to convert them into a different product of a desired shape and size in a manufacturing process.

Machining in a machine shop can be done on ceramic, metal, wood and other materials and the person performing the machining is known as a machinist. Machinists require a specific skillset and may have specialized training depending on the machining operations at the shop. The parts made are sold to different industries including the aircraft industry, power generating, shipbuilding and many more.

What is a Machine Shop – CNC Machines

CNC Machine Shops are an unknown celebrity in the world of manufacturing. The initials CNC stand for Computer Numerical Control.  This star of the machine shop continues to do a tremendous job shaping machine metal products, parts, and other components that we rely on for normal everyday operations.  CNC machining enables these shops to create machine parts and components that cannot be created manually.

While in medieval times people relied on smiths to shape machinery, today’s machine work is achieved in high-tech, multi-million dollar industries. This happened as a result of the industrial revolution that enhanced the rapid production of tools that would in turn produce other tools. Eventually, humans were capable of fabricating and mass-producing machines with parts that could be changed in their own machine shops. Now, The CNC has the opportunity to produce more products and we can see the products of their work in everyday products, something our ancestors could only dream of.

So How Does CNC Machining Technology work?

Computer numerical control (CNC Machining Process) is, in simple terms, the automation of machining tools including boring machines and industrial milling. Today, instead of machines being controlled by levers and hand cranks, they are fully automated and can be controlled through programmed commands that are stored on computers and retrieved whenever they are needed. The CNC system not only makes work easier but also cost-effective and simple. Today, CNC Is used alongside other technologies such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to make machining and designing of metal parts even faster and more effective. Now you can get machine parts and even electronic components easily compared to what you could get years ago.

Metal Casting Process

Casting metals is a modern process that has its roots in the ancient times. It involves pouring molten metal into a mold cavity. A cast metal object takes the shape of the mold cavity and multiple cast metal objects can be made using non-expendable molds.

Casting metals has a long history, but copper was the most popularly cast metal, with the first metal casting dating back to around 3200 BCE in Mesopotamia. The first production of cast iron was in China. Today, casting processes include sand casting, die casting, plaster casting and investment casting and the most popular metals cast are aluminum and bronze.

Basic Machine Tools

The modern machine-making industry has hundreds of metal casting tools. There are big production machines and small machines as well. While production methods may have changed tremendously, these machines still retain the basic features of the 19th and 20th-century machines and can be classified under different categories including:

Turning Machines

This is one of the most important machines in the production environment. It is also called an engine lathe and is considered an important mechanical element that can become a part of other machine tools. It can be used for different purposes including facing, drilling, and turning.
The tool has a single point that is used to bore and turn. Turning involves cutting away excess metal from the diameter of a piece. It also includes turning tapered and straight cylinder shapes, shoulders, screw threads, and other shapes on the ends of cylindrical parts.

On the other hand, boring includes activities such as enlarging and finishing a cored or drilled hole. Boring of holes is done with a single-point cutting tool that works on the inside of the workpiece. Therefore, these pieces end up more accurate in parallelism, roundness, and concentricity compared to drilled holes.

Shapers and Planers

As the name suggests, these are used for shaping and planning. Surfaces that can be shaped and planed include grooves, flat surfaces, T slots, and other angular surfaces. In the world of shaping and turning, the largest tool has a 36-inch cutting stroke and can work on parts that are up to 36 inches long. The cutting tools oscillate and cut on the forward stroke. During each stroke, the workpiece feeds towards the tool.

On the other hand, planers do the same thing as shapers. The main difference is that planning machines work on pieces longer than 36 inches. Sometimes they can be as long as 50 feet. For the planer to work, you have to mount your piece on a reciprocating table. This table moves the piece under the cutting tool. The cutting tool remains in one position as the workpiece is cut and it feeds into the piece with each stroke.

Drilling Presses

These are commonly called drilling machines. They cut hokes into metal in a drill motion. Apart from boring, there are other mechanisms involved including boring, counterboring, countersinking, reaming, and tapping internal threads.

Grinding Machines

Grinding machines remove chips away from metal parts. The workpiece comes into contact with a rotating abrasive wheel known as an abrasive belt or grinding wheel. Grinding is the most accurate of the techniques we have discussed. A grinding machine can grind both soft and hard parts to tolerances of +_0.0025 millimeter.

Milling Machines

Milling machines/milling tools cut the workpiece against milling cutters. Milling cutters come in different sizes and shapes for the different types of milling operations. Milling cutters cut inclined surfaces, T-slots, dovetails, grooves, and shoulders. There are also form-tooth cutters that are used to cut convex and concave corners and gear teeth.

There are various milling machine designs including standard horizontal and vertical knee-and-column machines, bed type machines, and special milling machines designed for specific or special jobs.

Power Saws

There are three types of basic metal cutting power tools. They include band saws, power hacksaws, and circular disk saws. There are also vertical band saws that can cut metal plate shapes, angular cuts, and internal and external contours.


Presses cover a large class of machines that are used to form metal parts. They can be used for shearing, forming, bending, squeezing, blanking, hammering, drawing, flanging and upsetting. These presses have a movable ram that is pressed against a base. The ram is powered by mechanical linkages, gravity, or pneumatic and hydraulic systems.

Top Machine Shop

Machining involves cutting, fabricating, and preparing parts for use. Machine parts are places where new parts are created, and existing parts repaired. The machinists who make these machines may have specialized training depending on the skillset required and the work done at the shop. Machinists can use subtractive and additive manufacturing to take away and add material to a machine part using CNC machining equipment.

Now that you know what is a machine shop, contact Cast Technologies for all of your foundry and machine shop casting needs.