What is a Cutting Tool for Precision Machining?

Published by GayaMadhusanka on

A cutting tool is a type of instrument designed to cut or shape various materials, especially wood, plastic, and metals. Particularly in the Manufacturing Industry, these tools are widely used for material removal processes. A tool can be manual which means manually operated tools or automatic tools used for lathe and milling machines. However, these tools are very popular with machines like CNC and NC machines. Cutting tools come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials. Depending on the requirement, you can select tools with various types and sizes. Generally Cutting Tools are used across a variety of manufacturing industries and sectors. For Example, woodworking, metalworking, construction, and crafting. Examples of cutting tools include knives, scissors, saws, drills, and milling machines.

However, to select a suitable cutting tool, you should have proper knowledge about it. Like Single Point Tool, Multi Point Tool, Cutting Fluids, Manufacturing Methods, and Machines. Not only that, You should know Engineering Drawings, GD&T, and Surface Finish requirements as well.

Types of Cutting Tools Use in the Manufacturing Industry

Cutting tool is not a single tool type. It is a common name for all the tool types. Depending on the industry and cutting type you can select the tool. However, in this article, we will discuss manufacturing tool types specially used for CNC machines.

Types of Cutting Tools

There are plenty of tool types for CNC machines. Depending on the machines and operations, tools will be changed. But the following tools are some common tools.

Common Cutting Tool Types

These are just a few examples of cutting tools used in manufacturing.

CNC Tool Classification

When comes to CNC machines, There are different types of Cutting Tools like below. Each tool is specified for different manufacturing processes. If you are a CNC programmer you should have a good understanding of these tools. Because any CAD software has a feature to simulate the CNC Machining Process. For instance Solid CAM in Solidworks software. So, you will have to maintain a virtual tool library in CAD software for simulation and an actual tool library for machining.

CNC Cutting Tools

The following are the common CNC cutting tool types.

  • Milling Tools:
    • End Mills: Used for milling and contouring operations.
    • Face Mills: Ideal for facing and surfacing.
    • Ball Nose Cutters: Used for 3D contouring and profiling.
    • Slot Drills: Designed for slotting and pocketing.
  • Turning Tools:
    • Turning Inserts: Used for turning operations on lathes.
    • Boring Bars: For enlarging existing holes or bores.
    • Parting and Grooving Tools: Used to cut off workpieces or create grooves.
  • Drilling Tools:
    • Twist Drills: Common for creating holes.
    • Center Drills: Used for centering holes for further drilling.
    • Spot Drills: Preparing holes for larger drills or taps.
  • Threading Tools:
    • Thread Milling Cutters: Used to create threads in materials.
    • Thread Taps: Designed for tapping threads in holes.
    • Thread Dies: For creating external threads on cylindrical parts.
  • Reaming Tools:
    • Reamers: Used to improve the finish and size of holes.
  • Boring Tools:
    • Boring Bars: For enlarging or improving the precision of existing holes.
  • Grooving Tools:
    • Grooving Inserts: Used for making grooves in workpieces.
  • Knurling Tools:
    • Knurling Inserts: Create patterns or knurls on the surface of cylindrical workpieces.
  • Milling Inserts:
    • Different types of inserts, such as square, round, and triangular, are used for various milling operations.
  • Drilling Inserts:
    • Inserts designed for drilling applications in CNC machines.
  • Composite Machining Tools:
    • Tools specifically designed for machining composite materials like carbon fiber.
  • PCD (Polycrystalline Diamond) Tools:
    • Extremely hard tools for machining abrasive and non-ferrous materials.
  • HSS (High-Speed Steel) Tools:
    • Tools made of high-speed steel are suitable for a variety of applications.
  • Coolant-Fed Tools:
    • Tools with integrated coolant/cutting fluid channels for better chip evacuation and cooling.
  • Tool Holders:
    • Various tool holders, including collets, end mill holders, and boring bar holders, secure cutting tools in the CNC machine.
  • Specialty Tools:
    • Tools designed for unique or specialized applications, such as chamfering, countersinking, or engraving.

Cutting Tool Classification

There are mainly three types of cutting tools in the industry. The following are the three types.

  • Single Point Cutting Tools
  • Double Point Cutting Tools
  • Multi-Point Cutting Tools

Above all are common tool types in CNC machines. But the most popular ones are multi-point cutting tools.

Single Point Cutting Tool

A single-point cutting tool is a common cutting tool type in machining operations. It consists of a single cutting edge or point. The cutting tool is typically made of a hard material, such as high-speed steel or carbide. These hard materials can withstand the forces and heat generated during the cutting process.

We can use Single-point cutting tools in Turning, Facing, Boring, and Grooving operations on lathes and milling machines.  As plus points, ease of design and cost of the tools are relatively inexpensive. For negative points high tools wearness and shorter tool life.

Multi-Point Cutting Tool

Most of the cutting tools are multi-point cutting tools, for example, milling tools, grinding wheels, and drilling tools. Basically, it has multiple edges or multiple single-cutting tools. However, when using multi-cutting tools it remove material simultaneously with each cutting edge.

Multi Point Cutting Tool

Cutting Tool Materials

The next most important thing is what are the cutting tools materials and how to select a cutting tool for your requirement. There are a lot of cutting tool materials and each material type has different advantages and disadvantages depending on the applications.

Carbon Tool Steel

Carbon tool steel is suitable for low-speed machining processes and it only can go up to 180-250 degrees Celsius.

High-Speed Steel (HSS)

HSS is widely used for drills, reamers, taps, gear, and dies tools. HSS can go up to 600 degrees Celsius and coolant or cutting fluids need to be applied to improve the tool life.

Cemented Carbide

Cement carbide tools have titanium-based hard particles. Using Partial Vapour Deposition (PVD) technology cement tools can be coated to improve the wear resistance. When comes to the applications of this tools, it is very popular in finishing operations of stainless steel, cast iron, and low carbon steels.


There is a wide range of ceramic tools for different applications. Mixed Ceramics(Carbonitrides as reinforcement material), Oxide Ceramics (Aluminium Oxide), whisker-reinforced ceramics, and Sialon are some common tool types. Depending on the workpiece materials you can select the ceramic tools. However ceramic tools offer exceptional tool wear resistance and we can use it for high-speed cutting.

How to Select a Cutting Tool

When you come to the selection of a cutting tool, there are a lot of points that need to be considered. First, you should have a proper understanding of the workpiece material, the surface finish requirement of the final part based on the engineering drawings, the machining method (CNC or manual machining), and the cost factors of the production. If wear resistance is high cost of the tool is also high. But for a larger production, it will save money for you.

You should have proper knowledge about tool materials theoretical and practical. Theoretically, some workpiece materials need particular tools. Selecting a tool for production comes from particle experiences. But end of the day quality of the final product and the profit for the work done are important points.


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