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What Are the Different Types of Machine Tool Systems?

By Jordan Weagly
Updated May 17, 2024
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The different types of machine tool systems include the planer, saw, drill press, lathe, grinding machine and milling machine. Though there are many kinds of machine tools, there are similarities between most of them. These include being powered by electricity and having the general purpose of working materials such as wood or metal. Generally, most machine tool systems are either manually controlled to some degree or automated by a computer.

A planer is a machine tool that works material on a linear path. The rotating cutter of a planer is powered by a motor, and a workpiece is generally placed on a table and passed by the cutter. Many planers are manually fed by an operator, though some automated machine tool systems might include a planer or multiple planers.

A powered saw is a machine tool that uses a disc-shaped blade to cut through material quickly. Using machine tools like powered saws often allows fast processing of a workpiece, often a major advantage over hand tools. Complex machine tool systems can incorporate multiple saws controlled by a computer, like those used to process raw lumber, to alter a workpiece.

A drill press is another type of machine tool that creates various, often circular, cuts in material using different bits. The drill press uses a piston to move the drill bit, which is powered by electricity, toward a workpiece. They are usually fixed to one spot because the motor and drill bit are often suspended in the air above a work table to provide lateral force.

Lathes use electricity to spin a workpiece on an axis. The workpiece is often tooled manually or by computer-automated controls. Useful for many applications, lathes are commonly used to work pieces of wood or metal into cylindrical shapes. The use of electricity allows for multiple speeds and consistent rotation. Lathe tool machine systems can be automated or controlled primarily through manual effort.

Grinding machines are powered machine tool systems that spin an abrasive wheel that can cut or grind metal and other materials. Many grinding machines include various speeds and manually held workpieces, though computer-controlled grinding machines also are used. The constant speed offered by this machine allows for the cutting, shaping and honing of blades, alleviating the need to use manual files.

Milling machines are often used to create detailed workpieces using specialized bits. They are often fully automated by computer control, which allows for the creation of complex products. One unique feature of a milling machine is that the workpiece and cutter often move separately on multiple axes.

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