Machining vs. Precision Machining

Machining vs. Precision Machining

Machining is a unique process that allows machinists to shape metal or other materials into finished products. They use turning, milling, grinding, and drilling machines (along with others) to assist them in producing their respective projects. In order to know what to produce, machinists require technical product designs, often called “machine drawings,” that specify exact dimensions. For example, the drawings for a shelf might tell us that it needs to be 4 feet wide by 6 feet long. Just giving a size alone, though, is often not enough information if you want to produce parts that fit together with other parts properly. In addition to the size, you’ll also have to specify the exact precision, or tolerance, needed. In our shelf example, we might need to say that other length must be accurate to plus or minus 1/16th of an inch in order to ensure that same shelf will fit in a customized closet.

What is Precision Machining?

Overall, the process of precision machining requires that we pay attention to the specified tolerances for each dimension. Think about all of the moving parts contained inside of a car’s engine. Each of those needs to be mechanically crafted to fit together properly and operate as a whole. How is this possible? CNC (computer numerical control) machines are programmed to reproduce CAD and CAM (computer aided design/manufacturing) designs to high precision, but it also takes a trained machinist to adjust the tools and make final adjustments.

When to Skip Out on Precisions

If you’re making a single part that doesn’t need to fit into another one, then you may not need to worry too much about the precision. Or, you might just want a visual mock-up of a product to show off to investors. There’s no sense in spending the extra time and money to be ultra-precise if your product doesn’t need to be fully operational yet.

When to Specify Precisions

Many rapid prototyping companies do not let you specify precisions. Instead, they will specify it for you in the fine print – meaning that you will get what they give you. Precision machining is a more customized process and, depending on how precise you specify, it can be significantly more expensive. Precision machine shops will charge you based on the precision you specify. Ideally, they will work with you and ask if you really need a certain level of precision, if the precision starts driving the cost out of bounds.

Choose Custom Technologies for Your Precision Machining Needs

At Custom Technologies, it’s our goal to meet your appropriate specifications by producing a fully functional product that properly services your target audience. We’re not just machinists either, we’re engineers who can machine! When it comes to precision machining and fabrication, our capabilities include:

  • High-Precision Machining
  • Automated (Lights-Out) Mill/Lathe Hybrid Machining
  • Welding/Fabrication
  • Sheet Metal Processing
  • Foundry (Metal) Castings
  • Specialized Jigs and Fixtures

Thanks to our state-of-the-art Mazak CNC machines and SolidCAM 3D machining software, our machine shop offers endless possibilities.

For more information, visit or contact us at 573-756-1433.