Machine Tool


Machine tools can be powered from a variety of sources. Human and animal power are options, as is energy captured through the use of waterwheels. However, modern machine tools began to develop only after the development of the steam engine, which led to the Industrial Revolution. Today, most machine tools are powered by electricity.

Machine tools can be operated manually, or under automatic control. Early machines used flywheels to stabilize their motion and had complex systems of gears and levers to control the machine and the piece being worked on. Soon after World War II, the numerical control (NC) machine was developed. NC machines used a series of numbers punched on paper tape or punch cards to control their motion. In the 1960s, computers were added to give even more flexibility to the process. Such machines became known as computerized numerical control (CNC) machines. NC and CNC machines could precisely repeat sequences over and over, and could produce much more complex pieces than even the most skilled tool operators.

Before long, the machines could automatically change the specific cutting and shaping tools that were being used. For example, a drill machine might contain a magazine with a variety of drill bits for producing holes of various sizes. Previously, either machine operators would usually have to manually change the bit or move the work piece to another station to perform these different operations. The next logical step was to combine several different machine tools together, all under computer control. These are known as machining centers, and have dramatically changed the way parts are made.

From the simplest to the most complex, most machine tools are capable of at least partial self-replication, and produce machine parts as their primary function.


Examples of machine tools are:

Broaching machine

Drill press

Gear shaper

Hobbing machine



Screw machines

Milling machine




Stewart platform mills

Grinding machines

When fabricating or shaping parts, several techniques are used to remove unwanted metal. Among these are:

Electrical discharge machining

Grinding (abrasive cutting)

Multiple edge cutting tools

Single edge cutting tools

Other techniques are used to add desired material. Devices that fabricate components by selective addition of material are called rapid prototyping machines.

Several regions of the United States became centers for machine tool development between 1800 and 1950, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Rockford, Illinois; Providence, Rhode Island] Springfield, Vermont; Windsor, Vermont; Hartford, Connecticut; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

See also

Category:Machine tool builders

Epoxy granite

Four slide machine

Self-replicating machine

Machining vibrations

Machinist calculator


Multimachine – an open source machine tool


Tool bit

Tool wear


^ Moore, Page 137, figure 213

^ Moore


Moore, Wayne R. (1970), Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy (1st ed.), Bridgeport, CT, USA: Moore Special Tool Co., LCCN 73-127307 .

Further reading

Floud, Roderick C. (2006) , The British Machine Tool Industry, 1850-1914, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, LCCN 2006-275684, LCCN 75-046133, ISBN 0521212030, ISBN 978-0521025553, .

Hounshell, David A. (1984), From the American system to mass production, 1800-1932: The development of manufacturing technology in the United States, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press, LCCN 83-016269, ISBN 978-0-8018-2975-8 .

Moltrecht, Karl Hans (1981), Machine Shop Practice (2 vols) (2nd ed.), New York: Industrial Press, LCCN 79-091236, ISBN 978-0831111267 .

Noble, David F. (1984), Forces of production: a social history of industrial automation, New York: Knopf, LCCN 83-048867, ISBN 978-0-394-51262-4 .

Roe, Joseph Wickham (1916), English and American Tool Builders, New Haven, Connecticut, USA: Yale University Press, LCCN 16-011753, . Reprinted by McGraw-Hill, New York and London, 1926 (LCCN 27-024075); and by Lindsay Publications, Inc., Bradley, IL, USA (ISBN 978-0-917914-73-7).

Rolt, L.T.C. (1965), A Short History of Machine Tools, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press, LCCN 65-12439 . Co-edition published as Rolt, L.T.C. (1965), Tools for the Job: a Short History of Machine Tools, London: B. T. Batsford, LCCN 65-080822 .

Woodbury, Robert S. (1972), Studies in the History of Machine Tools, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and London, England: MIT Press, LCCN 72-006354, ISBN 978-0-262-73033-4 . Collection of previously published monographs bound as one volume.

External links

Look up machine tool in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

National Institute for Metalworking Skills Standards download page

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

American Precision Museum museum that preserves historically important machine tools and helps to educate on the history of machine tools

Canadian Museum of Making

Challenges of high speed spindle motor elements used in machine tools from the motor supplier’s view

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Machining & computing


2.5D  CAD  CAE  CAM  CNC  G-code  Numerical control  Stewart platform

Drilling and threading

Die head  Drill  Drill bit  Drill bit shank  Drill bit sizes  Drill and tap size chart  Drilling  Jig borer  Pin chuck  Screw thread  Tap and die  Tap wrench

Grinding and lapping

Abrasive  Angle grinder  Bench grinder  Coated abrasives  Cylindrical grinder  Diamond plate  Flick grinder  Dresser  Grinding  Grinding machine  Grinding wheel  Jig grinder  Lapping  Sanding  Spark test  Surface grinder  Tool and cutter grinder  Whetstone

Machining and milling

Electrical discharge machining  Electro chemical machining  Endmill  Engraving  Hobbing machine  Lathe  Machine tool  Machining  Milling cutter  Milling machine  Planer  Pantograph  Shaper

Machine tooling

Angle plate  Chuck  Collet  Jig  Fixture  Indexing head  Lathe center  Machine taper  Magnetic base  Mandrel  Rotary table  Wiggler


Chatter  Cutting fluid  Cutting speed  Swarf  Tolerance  Tramp oil

Casting  Fabrication  Forming  Jewellery  Machining  Metallurgy  Smithing  Tools & Terminology  Welding

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Types of tools

Cutting tools

Blade  Bolt cutter  Broach  Ceramic tile cutter  Chisel  Coping saw  Countersink  Diamond blade  Diamond tool  Drill bit  Endmill  File  Fretsaw  Froe  Glass cutter  Grater  Hacksaw  Hand saw  Knife  Milling cutter  Miter saw  Pipecutter  Plane  Razor  Reamer  Saw  Scalpel  Scissors  Slasher  Surform  Switchblade  Tap and die  Tool bit  Utility knife  Water jet cutter  Wire cutter  Wire stripper

Garden tools

Adze  Axe  Billhook  Bow saw  Cultivator  Earth auger  Edger  Garden fork  Garden hose  Garden trowel  Hedge trimmer  Hoe  Hori hori  Irrigation sprinkler  Lawn aerator  Lawn mower  Lawn sweeper  Leaf blower  Loppers  Machete  Mattock  Pickaxe  Pitchfork  Plough (plow)  Post hole digger  Pruning shears (secateurs)  Rake  Roller  Rotary tiller  Scythe  Sickle  Spade  Splitting maul  String trimmer

Hand tools

Block plane  BNC inserter/remover  Brace  Bradawl  Breaker bar  Broom  Brush  Card scraper  Caulking gun  Clamp  Crimping pliers  Crowbar  Fish tape  Hammer  Hawk  Hex key  Locking pliers  Mallet  Miter box  Nut driver  Pipe wrench  Pliers  Punch  Punch down tool  Putty knife  Ratchet  Scratch awl  Screwdriver  Sledgehammer   Sponge  Squeegee  Staple gun  Stitching awl  Torque wrench  Trowel  Upholstery hammer  Wrench (spanner)

Machine tools

Broaching machine  Drill press  Gear shaper  Grinding machine  Hobbing machine  Jig borer  Lathe  Metalworking lathe  Milling machine  Planer  Screw machine  Shaper  Turret lathe

Power tools

Angle grinder  Band saw  Belt sander  Blow torch  Chainsaw  Chop saw  Circular saw  Concrete saw  Crusher  Cutting torch  Die grinder  Drill  Glue gun  Grinding machine  Heat gun  Impact wrench  Jigsaw  Jointer  Nail gun  Radial arm saw  Random orbital sander  Reciprocating saw  Rotary tool  Router table  Sander  Scroll saw  Soldering gun  Soldering iron  Steam box  Table saw  Thickness planer  Welding  Wood router  Wood shaper

Measuring &

Alignment tools

Caliper  Jig  Micrometer  Pencil  Plumb-bob  Ruler  Sliding T bevel  Spirit level  Square  Tape measure


Antique tools  Halligan bar  Kelly tool  Ladder  Thau claw  Toolbox  Vise  Workbench

Categories: Machine tools | Industrial equipment | Machines | Machining | Tools | WoodworkingHidden categories: Articles needing additional references from October 2008 | All articles needing additional references

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