The Ultimate Guide of CNC Turned Parts

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

Manufacturing processes have come a long way since the beginning of the industrial revolution, which heralded the use of technology for mass production. Several methods, equipment, and tools have been developed, used, and improved for efficiency. CNC turning is one of the cutting-edge technologies that has significantly increased the efficiency, speed, and quality of manufactured goods.

This production method uses a deductive, computer-programmed machining technique to fabricate high-performing products efficiently. It is extensively used in several industries, including automotive, oil and gas, and aerospace, especially for custom-made components for specialized usage.

This guide aims to furnish you with all the information you require to perfectly understand the workings, customization considerations, and other processes involved in CNC-turned parts. It also includes the various applications of this manufacturing method across multiple industries.

II. Understanding CNC Turned Parts

One constant challenge manufacturers face is the ability to efficiently manufacture products with complex shapes and geometries. This is one of the fortes of CNC-turned parts, making it a favorite of many engineers and specifiers. The computer numerical control or CNC machine is central to CNC-turned parts.

The CNC machine holds the material within its clamped chucks and rotates it against a stationary cutting tool or bit using a preprogrammed motion to remove part of the material resulting in the designed shape. CNC-turned items may be made from a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and composites.

But more importantly, the cutting precision and the accuracy of the machine are outstanding, considering that its movement follows a computer-generated itinerary and it’s not subjected to human errors. This high accuracy is one significant advantage that CNC-turned parts have over other manufacturing processes, especially those with high human inputs. Also, its ability to attain dimensional precision with tight tolerances makes it a suitable manufacturing technique for industries with tight margins for errors, like the aerospace and automotive sectors.

However, you will need to have an in-depth understanding of the workings and processes of CNC-turned parts to take full advantage of its offerings, including functional materials, tools, and CNC machining procedures and setups.

III. Material Options for CNC Turned Parts

CNC Turned Parts

The versatility of CNC-turned parts includes their ability to work with a variety of materials, including precious metals, fiber, and plastic. However, the uniqueness of individual materials defines their suitability and limitations when using them for CNC-turned parts. Knowing these material limitations is essential to selecting appropriate materials when using CNC machining for your project. Below are some of the most popular materials often used by manufacturers with CNC machines across different sectors.

A. Exploring Stainless Steel

Stainless steel has been a preferred manufacturing material for different purposes, the chief of which is its corrosion resistance. Other attractive properties of stainless steel include its high durability, strength, and thermal properties, which make it suitable for applications where the ability to withstand extreme temperatures is critical. Nevertheless, its aesthetic appeal, which manufacturers seek in materials for decorative purposes, completes why it is attractive to manufacturers as a suitable material for CNC machined parts.

B. Benefits of Brass

One attractive property of brass is its high machinability making it easy to handle during machining procedures like CNC machining. However, it is endowed with other interesting properties, such as high corrosion resistance, thermal and electrical conductivity, and an appealing appearance, making it suitable for decorative manufacturing. Considering its anti-corrosion and high electrical conductivity, it also applies to plumbing products and electrical components.

C. Characteristics of Steel

Steel’s high tensile strength and durability are two characteristics that make it widely applicable for various CNC machined parts. For instance, in mold design and at the design stage of other projects, designers often specify steel during the material selection stage of the design, given that steel is versatile and can withstand high tensile stresses. Depending on the grade of steel selected, it can also withstand load forces and pressure if heat-treated, making it a suitable material for CNC-turned parts used as machine components and accessories.

D. Aluminum’s Advantages

Aluminum is one of the few lightweight materials yet significantly strong to comfortably support structural loads and forces. Its anti-corrosion properties make it a suitable material for areas where there is moisture is a challenge. Hence, manufacturers and designers rely on these advantages when recommended as a CNC-machined part.  

E. Titanium’s Unique Properties

As the most precious metal on earth, titanium is often recommended for its ability to resist corrosion and retain structural integrity under extreme temperatures and pressure. Also, being lightweight makes it suitable for machined parts used in components in the aerospace industry.

IV. CNC Turned Parts vs. CNC Milled Parts: Distinguishing the Differences

Manufacturers and designers often grapple with the consideration of using CNC milling or CNC-turned parts to achieve production, considering their high precision computerized processes. However, understanding the differences between these two machine processes, including their limitations, can help to quickly identify and select the most suitable for each project. The movement of the components and tools is a significant distinction between them. The material moves in CNC-turned pieces, while the cutting tool is held immobile by a clamping mechanism. While the material is in position, the cutting tool travels according to the computer-generated itinerary for CNC milling manufacturing.

As a result, CNC milling may be more suited to massive materials than CNC turning, as larger materials may be difficult to spin. Also, the intricacy of the design may be another significant consideration in choosing one of the two CNC-based procedures. The CNC milling method is often more suitable for complex designs requiring a lot of maneuvering, as the cutting tool can move along the material easily. At the same time, CNC turning is especially desirable for round-shaped materials. As a result, CNC milling is frequently used to produce components with complicated geometry, such as gears.

Nevertheless, they are sometimes used together to complete custom designs, putting factors like accuracy, measurements, and shape complexity in focus.

The decision to use CNC turning or milling often depends on the complexity of the part and the material being used. For example, CNC turning is often used for items with cylindrical or circular forms, whereas CNC milling is better suited for pieces with complicated geometries, such as gears or brackets.

V. Key Industries Utilizing CNC-Turned Parts

The high precision and the ability to work with various materials, including metals, alloys, and plastics, have endeared CNC-turned parts to many manufacturers and industries. Below are the major industries where CNC-turned elements help achieve high-quality and innovative products.

  1. Medical sector: In the medical field, where special tools with intricate design details are used for medical procedures and where the margin of error is tight, CNC-turned parts help manufacture some of the most complex mechanisms and devices used in saving lives. These devices include implants, surgical implements, and equipment.
  2. Aerospace field: The safety of passengers is paramount in the aerospace industry, and tight tolerances for design and manufacturing errors make it easy to keep passengers safe. However, CNC-turned parts are major components of every aerospace manufacturing project. CNC turning is used to manufacture aerospace components such as landing gears, rotors, blades, and engine parts.
  3. Transportation domain: In safely transporting humans and goods to their destinations, the transportation devices depend on the high accuracy of CNC turning to manufacture some of the most complex components, including bearings, shafts, and wheel axles.
  4. Oil and gas industry: This industry is another heavy user of CNC-turned parts, producing pipe accessories like valves, pump components, and unique studs and bolts. Its ability to work with corrosion-resistant materials to produce with design precision continues to endear CNC turning to this industry.

VI. Customization Possibilities for CNC-Turned Parts

Sometimes, CNC-turned parts need to be customized to suit specific project requirements. These requirements are not often standard and become challenging using traditional mechanisms or equipment. Fortunately, CNC-turned parts are versatile and easily customizable to fulfill the desired project requirement.

CNC turning is especially useful in sectors such as mold manufacturing and automotive, where multiple bespoke pieces must be made to suit safety, functional, or aesthetic standards. Components like gears, engine components, and brake calipers are some CNC-turned parts serving particular purposes within automobiles. More importantly, the accuracy required for these components is high and requires a method as precise as CNC turning to achieve this level of accuracy.

Another industry that greatly relies on the high precision of CNC-turned parts is the furniture and accessories industries. This industry is becoming increasingly ergonomic in design requiring high accuracy with very minute details, including backrests, door handles, and chair legs with custom designs. Also, instruments and their accessories contain a great deal of detail as these are required to make them function, especially for musical instruments like drums, guitars, and saxophones.

Before employing CNC-turned parts for your projects, specific parameters are essential, especially from a design standpoint, so manufacturers can meet the intended level of detail and quality. Here is some of the most critical information the manufacturer should have before producing CNC-turned parts.  

  1. Necessary design inputs: Design inputs are vital to achieving the desired functionality, geometry, and aesthetic of CNC-turned parts. These inputs include drawings (2D and 3D), specification documents, and data sheets with features and dimensions. The manufacturer uses this input to efficiently produce the turned parts to meet specifications and to select suitable tools to achieve the design.
  2. Material preferences: While CNC uses various materials to achieve the project design, not all materials will be suitable for most CNC projects. Consequently, suitable material must be agreed upon and suggested during the design stage. These material preferences should be documented and presented to the manufacturer during production to ensure the product is quality and meets design specifications.
  3. Adhering to quality and tolerance requirements: The level of tolerance and quality are not the same for every project. Since it costs more to achieve high quality with tight tolerances for error, adhering to the design stipulated quality means you won’t be spending more or less than the required budget.

VIII. Surface Finishing Techniques for CNC-Turned Parts

Functionality without aesthetic appeal often leaves most products falling short of economic success. Hence, why many manufacturers consider a product’s surface finish equally as important as its functionality. However, there are several ways to achieve an aesthetically appealing surface finish; choosing the most suitable one will depend on the quality required by design. Some of the most common surface treatment processes for CNC-turned items are listed below.

  1. Paint application: Painting is perhaps the most popular surface treatment approach for CNC-turned items. The reason is based on its simplicity in application and the variety in color and quality, which matches almost any type of budget. Its wide application for various materials is also why painting is a standard method of finishing a CNC-turned part. Simply clean the part’s surface, making it free from dirt, and apply a prime coat before spraying or brushing the final desired paint color on the material surface.
  2. Electroplating methods: Here, the material finish requires passing electricity to displace it from the source and place it on the targeted CNC part. The material is usually a thin layer of metal with a lustrous appearance to give the CNC-turned part a more appealing look. The thin layer also serves as an anti-corrosion for the part.
  3. Polishing processes: Smoothing the surface of machined parts is another way of bringing out their aesthetic appeal. Materials with fine abrasive surfaces are frequently used to remove roughages and spatters off the surfaces of CNC-turned components, revealing better-looking material surfaces.

IX. Discovering a Reliable CNC-Turned Parts Manufacturer in China

China being a center of manufacturing excellence naturally makes it a first-choice destination for anyone looking to purchase special manufacturing tools such as rapid prototyping and CNC-turned parts. However, the abundance of so many CNC-turned-part manufacturers can make finding a reliable one arduous. Still, there are simple but not-so-obvious steps you can follow to quickly locate a reliable one that fits your needs and budget.

  1. Conducting research and seeking recommendations: Due diligence in research is one of the quickest ways to locate a reliable manufacturer in China. While it is as straightforward as entering a search query in Google, not many people remember to start from there. Using operators like + and – can help filter the result to get the specific one that meets your requirements. Again, having colleagues and friends already doing business in China can save you some research energy by seeking their recommendations.
  2. Evaluating expertise and capabilities: A manufacturer’s expertise and capabilities indicate reliability. Uncovering the level of technicality involved in their previous jobs and their success rate will tell you if the manufacturer is reliable or not. This information is often available on their website.
  3. Verifying quality control measures and certifications: Dedication to quality manufacturing is another way of verifying a manufacturer’s reliability. It indicates a system that works and can be trusted, especially if they have industry-recognized certifications like ISO 9001.

X. TDL: A Trusted Source for Precision CNC Turned Parts (

Without a trusted source for CNC-turned parts, a project will likely suffer low-quality output and loss of revenue as reworks often cost a minimum of double the actual cost of quality production. However, choosing a trusted and verifiable source of CNC-turned parts like TDL makes the jobs look like a piece of cake.  

With a dedication to excellence laid on a foundation of quality manufacturing that has been tested and trusted for many years, TDL is poised and always ready to meet your CNC-turned-part requirements. Their facility, which boasts modern and sophisticated machines, allows their engineers with extensive years of industry experience to meet the highest quality standards.

XI. Why Choose TDL as Your Go-To CNC Turned Parts Manufacturer?

As hinted in the preceding section, there are so many positive reasons you should choose TDL if you are in the market for CNC-turned parts.

TDL’s commitment to quality products has never been in doubt. Advanced CNC technology and equipment are at the forefront of their CNC machining process, assisting them in meeting the strictest quality, accuracy, and precise tolerances.

They are also ISO 9001 certified, assuring clients of their commitment to the highest industry quality standards given their quality management systems. Furthermore, TDL offers some of the most specialized CNC processes in the industry and customized CNC-turned parts utilizing a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum.

Additionally, their competitive pricing beats the competition as they use their state-of-the-art technology to significantly cut production costs. With this, TDL can offer clients they can’t resist without compromising quality.

Also, TDL has a proactive and responsive customer care team ready to give a helping hand promptly and with a friendly approach.

XII. Collaborating with TDL: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are planning on collaborating with TDL on your next CNC-turned-parts purchase, it takes only steps to get your order delivered, all of which can be done seamlessly and conveniently.

  • Initiating contact and consultation: The first step is initiating contact with TDL through any of their contacting medium, including email, phone calls, text, WhatsApp messages, or through any of their social media handles. You can then schedule a meeting to discuss your requirements, including preferred materials, functionality, and surface finish, after which TDL’s team will give you their expert guidance.
  • Placing orders and understanding the production timeline: Placing orders is the final step after finalizing your requirements and production process. TDL will then give further details, including expected delivery time and costs, along with a breakdown of other timelines during production. TDL’s online tracking system is an innovative way for clients to track ongoing work progress.

XIII. Shipping and Delivery of CNC-Turned Parts

Packaging and shipment of CNC-turned parts are essential to avoid any damage and preserve the quality of the components. Packaging with the proper containers and providing the appropriate handling instructions on the package for safe loading and unloading is a function that TDL does so well. Also, the shipment options offered by TDL allow clients to choose the most suitable option based on budget and urgency. Clients can accurately calculate the expected arrival date with the ability to track the shipment on its way to them.


Gary Liao

Gary Liao

Gary Liao is the Engineering Manager of TDL Company and has more than 20 years of mold design experience.

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