Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large-scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills, processes, and tools.
Metalworking is a science, art, hobby, industry and trade. Its historical roots span cultures, civilizations, and millennia. Metalworking has evolved from the discovery of smelting various ores, producing malleable and ductile metal useful for tools and adornments. Modern metalworking processes, though diverse and specialized, can be categorized as forming, cutting, or joining processes. Today’s machine shop includes a number of machine tools capable of creating a precise, useful workpiece.
The pieces produced are usually complex 3D objects that are converted into x, y, and z coordinates that are then fed into the CNC machine and allow it to complete the tasks required. The milling machine can produce most parts in 3D, but some require the objects to be rotated around the x, y, or z coordinate axis (depending on the need). Tolerances are usually in the thousandths of an inch (Unit known as Thou), depending on the specific machine.
In order to keep both the bit and material cool, a high temperature coolant is used. In most cases the coolant is sprayed from a hose directly onto the bit and material. This coolant can either be machine or user controlled, depending on the machine.
Materials that can be milled range from aluminum to stainless steel and almost everything in between. Each material requires a different speed on the milling tool and varies in the amount of material that can be removed in one pass of the tool. Harder materials are usually milled at slower speeds with small amounts of material removed. Softer materials vary, but usually are milled with a high bit speed.