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  • June 14, 2024
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What are the types of CNC tools?

CNC cutting tools are essential in modern production for converting raw materials into accurate and complicated components. Computer numerical control (CNC) machines, which automate the machining process and enable effective and precise manufacturing, depend on these tools to function properly. In this article, we will discuss the different types of CNC cutting tools, their materials and commonly used CNC machining tools and their properties  

Types of CNC Cutting Tools

CNC tools are classified by structure

In terms of structure, CNC tools can be separated into integral tools, insert tools, machine tool tools, and compound tools. Integral Tools (Solid Tools): Solid tools, often referred to as integral tools, are cutting implements that are manufactured entirely of one material and have no removable components. Usually, high-speed steel (HSS), solid carbide, or other cutting-edge materials are used to create these tools. The structure of integral tools is constant from the shank to the cutting edge. Integral tools have several benefits.
  • High Rigidity: Integral tools are incredibly stable and are perfect for machining heavy-duty materials.
  • Improved Precision: More Accurate Cuts and Better Surface Finishes: Their one-piece construction reduces tool runout, improving precision and cutting efficiency.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Integral tools are frequently chosen for general-purpose machining because they are more cost-effective than insert tools in general.
Insert Tools (Indexable Tools): A tool body and replaceable cutting inserts make up insert tools, also known as indexable tools. Typically, screws, clamps, or other locking mechanisms are used to attach these inserts to the tool body. The insert can be changed to restore cutting edge sharpness, avoiding the need to throw away the entire tool body. The benefits of insert tools are:
  • Cost-Efficiency: The capacity to swap out worn inserts increases the tool’s total life and lowers long-term tooling expenses.
  • Versatility: Inserts are appropriate for a wide range of machining applications since they are available in a variety of shapes and materials.
  • Time-saving: Insert replacement is simple and quick, reducing machine downtime and boosting output.
Machine Tool Tools: There isn’t a separate category of CNC cutting tools for machine tool tools. Instead, they describe equipment that is tailored to a certain machine or is enhanced for a particular machining center or procedure. Depending on how they are made, these tools may fall under the integral or insert tool categories. Benefits of machine tool equipment
  • Customized for the Machine: To ensure best performance and compatibility, machine tool tools are tailored to a certain CNC machine.
  • These tools are frequently designed for certain machining operations and specialized jobs.
Compound Tools: Tools with numerous cutting components combined into a single tool body are known as compound tools. The manufacturing process can be streamlined by using these tools, which are made to carry out numerous machining operations sequentially or simultaneously. Compound tools provide benefits.
  • Efficiency Gains: Using compound tools eliminates the need to switch tools between processes, saving time and money on setup.
  • Precision: Consolidating several tasks into a single pass ensures precision consistency and minimizes cumulative tolerances.
In conclusion, integral tools (solid tools) and insert tools (indexable tools) are included in the structural category of CNC cutting tools. Machine tool tools are actually tools that are specialized for particular machines or processes rather than being a separate category. In order to increase productivity and accuracy during machining operations, a distinct category of tools known as compound tools integrates many cutting components into a single tool body. Manufacturers and machinists may choose the best CNC cutting tools for their unique applications by having a thorough understanding of the traits and benefits of each type.

CNC tools are classified by cutting process

Based on their principal purpose and machining operation, CNC tools may be divided into four major groups according to the cutting process: Milling Tools: Using rotary cutters, milling tools are used to remove material from a workpiece. They are a crucial part of CNC milling machines, which are frequently employed for a range of machining jobs. Various types of milling tools are categorized according to their cutting edge geometry End Mills: End mills are multipurpose cutting equipment featuring edges for cutting on the bottom and sides. They are available in a variety of shapes, each one best suited for a particular milling activity, including square end mills, ball nose end mills, corner radius end mills, and tapered end mills. Face Mills: Face mills have a revolving face that contains several cutting inserts. They are employed for generating shallow cuts with a large diameter and confronting flat surfaces. Slotting Cutters: Keyways and other similar applications are perfect for slotting cutters since they may be used to cut slots or grooves in the workpiece. Turning Tools: Turning tools are used during the turning process, in which the workpiece rotates and material is removed by the cutting tool to produce cylindrical components. One of the most popular machining operations is turning, and turning tools are essential for producing accurate and smooth cylindrical surfaces. Tools used for turning are frequently Tools for External Turning: These tools are used for machining the outer diameter of the workpiece to achieve the desired dimensions and surface finish. Internal turning tools: Internal turning tools are made to be used in the internal machining of the workpiece’s internal features, such as holes or cavities. Boring bars: With extreme precision, existing holes can be enlarged or finished with boring bars. Drilling Tools: To make holes in workpieces, drilling tools are used. They come in many shapes, each created for certain drilling uses: Twist Drills: The most popular drilling instrument, twist drills include a spiral-shaped flute that aids in removing material as the drill advances. Center Drills: Larger drills or lathe work can be started using center drills, which serve as a starting point. In order to precisely position the drill, they frequently have a short, stiff construction. Spot Drills: Spot drills improve drilling precision by providing precise starting points for twist drills. Reaming Tools: Tools for achieving exact hole diameters and clean surface finishes include reaming tools. Usually used after drilling to improve the size and surface of the hole. Reamers have a precisely ground cutting edge geometry that makes sure that the hole diameter is constant and exact. Each of these CNC cutting tools has a specific function and is essential for obtaining various machining results. To ensure effective and precise CNC machining, it is crucial to comprehend the cutting process and choose the right tool for each operation.

Materials of CNC Cutting Tools

The choice of material for CNC cutting tools is crucial since it has a direct impact on the functionality, durability, and precision of the machined parts. Materials frequently utilized in CNC tools include: High-Speed Steel (HSS): HSS is a durable, reasonably priced material with good wear resistance. It is appropriate for most machining tasks. Carbide: Carbide tools have great wear resistance and hardness, which makes them perfect for machining a variety of materials at high speeds and temperatures. Ceramics:  For machining tough materials like superalloys and cast iron, ceramics are employed because of their outstanding heat resistance. Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN): Due to its high hardness, cubic boron nitride (CBN) is used to process hardened steels and other challenging-to-machine materials. Diamond: For non-ferrous materials and composites, diamond-coated tools are employed because of their higher hardness and minimal friction. Every material has unique advantages that are tailored to various machining needs and material kinds.

Types and Performances of Commonly Used CNC Cutting Tools

End mills End mills are a type of cutting instrument that can be used in many different milling operations. For general milling work and roughing, square-end mills are perfect. Corner radius end mills decrease wear and offer smooth finishes on curved surfaces, whereas ball nose end mills are used to contour and create 3D shapes. Drills The most popular drilling tool, available in a variety of diameters and lengths, is the twist drill. Center drills are necessary to make starter holes for larger drills or lathe work, and spotting drills guarantee accurate twist drill starting points. Inserts and Holders for Inserts Cutting tips that can be changed out are fastened to tool bodies by inserts, providing an affordable tool replacement option. They are available in a variety of forms and cutting geometries, each one designed for a particular machining operation. Holders for inserts offer the stability and support needed for the inserts to function at their best. Tool Turning Turning inserts, also known as external turning tools, are used for roughing and finishing operations on a workpiece’s exterior diameter. Tools for internal turning are used to bore and design internal features. While grooving tools carve grooves or recesses in the workpiece, threading tools are used to create threads on cylindrical surfaces. Reamers To produce exact hole measurements and flawless surface finishes, reamers are employed. Machine reamers are made to be used with CNC machines for improved precision and productivity whereas hand reamers are adjustable and operated manually. Taps Taps, which include spiral taps, fluteless taps, machine taps, and hand taps, are used in threading processes. The material and thread parameters are used to select the right tap.


Modern production relies heavily on CNC cutting tools because they make it possible to precisely and effectively machine a variety of materials. A wide variety of cutting implements are available to meet a variety of machining demands, from sturdy tools to indexable inserts and sophisticated composite cutters. The performance and lifetime of the cutting tool are directly influenced by the material used, such as HSS, carbide, ceramics, CBN, and diamond. CNC cutting tools will stay at the vanguard of innovation as the manufacturing sector develops, enabling the production of delicate and complicated components that power our contemporary world.

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