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CNC Machining for Aerospace

The extremely high level of precision needed within the aerospace industry makes CNC machining a suitable manufacturing process for the sector.


This article provides you with a complete guide to aerospace machining and its importance.



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CNC Machining eBook

If you want to produce high-quality machined parts with a sleek appearance, it’s essential to consider some critical factors related to CNC machining. 


Here, we’ve gathered some basic information and important considerations to help you achieve the desired results.

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Custom Online CNC Turning Services

Custom CNC turning services with fast lead times and competitive pricing from rapid prototyping to production runs. 0.02 mm tight tolerance. Lead time as fast as 1 day.

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CNC Turning
With RapidDirect

CNC Turning With RapidDirect

Take advantage of the on-demand CNC turning service and get reliable metal and plastic turned parts for your unique projects. With advanced technologies and expert technicians, RapidDirect produces high-quality custom prototypes and end-use production parts. Our CNC turning capabilities allow us to deliver turned parts with high accuracy, regardless of the complexity. You will get durable parts from flats to radial and axial holes, slots, and grooves as fast as one day.

Our precision CNC turning lathes provide low-cost parts for simple and complex cylindrical geometries. We also use Live tooling to create precise, complex geometries for features like axial and radial holes, grooves, slots, and flats. Full automation of these versatile machines allows us to produce hundreds of similar dimensions easier, faster, and cost-effectively.

CNC Turning Solutions

Rapid Prototyping

Accelerate product development with our rapid machining services. We offer fast turnaround times and specialize in quick production of high-quality prototypes and mold tooling, aiding your design verification process.

Low and High-Volume Production

Whether you need small batches or large-scale production, we can offer you both. With stringent tolerance controls and comprehensive capabilities, we adapt to your volume requirements without compromising on quality.

CNC Turning Materials

Our CNC turning processes are compatible with a wide range of materials, including machine-grade metals and plastics. Depending on your applications, we can create precise rapid prototypes and low-volume production from various superior-quality materials. Check out some of the common materials for your CNC turning projects.

CNC Turning Surface Finishes

With a wide selection of surface finishes, RapiDirect can help improve the surface qualities of your products. Surface finishes applied to your CNC turned parts aim at improving their appearance, surface hardness and roughness, chemical and corrosion resistance, etc. They also help hide any visible tool marks from areas cut with live tooling. Here are some of your top choices.

As Machined  

As machined (Ra1.6)
As machined finish leaves the surface straight from the CNC machine, providing a cost-effective option with tool marks.


Anodizing Type II (Black, Glossy)
Anodizing increases corrosion resistance and wear properties, while allowing for color dyeing, ideal for aluminum parts.


Ra0.2 (Mirror polish)
Polishing achieves a high gloss finish, reducing surface roughness and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of metals.

Sand Blasting

Sand blasting (#220)
Sand blasting uses pressurized sand or other media to clean and texture the surface, creating a uniform, matte finish.


Tumbling smooths and polishes small parts by friction and abrasion in a barrel, offering a consistent but slightly textured finish.


Electropolish is a chemical process that smooths and brightens surfaces while improving corrosion resistance.


Alodine (Chemical film:Conversion) Yellow
Alodine coating provides corrosion protection and improves paint adhesion, mainly used on aluminum surfaces.
Heat Treatment
Vacuum Heat Treatment
Heat treatment alters the mechanical properties of metal to increase its hardness, strength, or ductility.

Brushed Finish

Brushed (#220)
A brushed finish creates a unidirectional satin texture, reducing the visibility of marks and scratches on the surface.

Powder Coating

Powder Coating (Black)
Powder coating applies a thick, wear-resistant layer with excellent color and texture options, suitable for a variety of surfaces.


Nickel Electroplating (Glossy)
Electroplating bonds a thin metal layer onto parts, improving wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and surface conductivity.

Black Oxidize

Black Oxidize
Black oxidize is a conversion coating for ferrous metals that improves corrosion resistance and minimizes light reflection.

Tolerances for
CNC Turning

As an ISO 9001 certified company, we machine CNC turning lathe parts to meet tight tolerance requirements. Based on your design, our CNC lattes can reach tolerances of up to ±0.005”. Our standard tolerances for CNC milled metals is ISO 2768-m and ISO 2768-c for plastics.

Maximum Part SizeTypically up to 500 mm in diameter and 1500 mm in length, though larger sizes can be accommodated with specific equipment.
Minimum Part SizeAs small as 1 mm in diameter, depending on the material and machining setup.
General TolerancesStandard tolerances of ±0.01 mm; tighter tolerances down to ±0.005 mm can be achieved based on the material and complexity of the part.
Lead TimeStandard lead times range from 3-7 days for small batches. Expedited services are available, reducing lead time to 24-48 hours depending on part complexity and material availability.

CNC Turning
Design Guidelines

Recommended Size
RadiiMinimum internal radius of 0.5 mm recommended. Larger radii (up to 3 mm or more) can improve tool access and reduce stress concentrations in the part.
Threads and Tapped HolesExternal and internal threads can be precisely cut. Standard thread sizes from M1.6 and larger are feasible. Ensure a minimum thread length of 1.5 times the diameter for stability.
Minumum Wall ThicknessMaintain a minimum wall thickness of 0.8 mm for metals and 1.5 mm for plastics to ensure structural integrity without compromising the machining process.
TextEngraving should have a minimum character height of 2 mm and a depth of at least 0.5 mm to ensure legibility after machining.
HolesMinimum hole diameter of 0.5 mm. For deep holes, maintain a diameter to depth ratio of 1:10 to avoid tool deflection and ensure hole quality.
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CNC Machining Project

Kickstart your project with our easy-to-use online quoting platform. Upload a CAD file to receive instantly quotes, lead time, and DFM details for your CNC components. Specializing in CNC machining for metals and plastics, we provide adaptive production and shipping solutions to align with your product development needs.

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Choose Us

RapidDirect is your leading CNC turning company, consistently delivering highly reliable CNC turning services for several industries. Our commitment and improved technological approaches help us provide complex prototypes and production parts that meet your demands.
High Quality

Experience unparalleled precision in each undertaking. Our advanced milling processes ensure components adhere to tight tolerances, as tight as ±0.01mm, resulting in seamless assembly and operational excellence.

Fast Lead

Accelerate your manufacturing cycle. RapidDirect domestic workshops and state-of-the-art machinery guarantee fast turnaround times, helping businesses maintain momentum and meet critical deadlines.


No matter you whenever and whereever, navigate your CNC milling projects with confidence. Our seasoned specialists offer insightful guidance at every step, maximizing design optimization and output quality.

How Does CNC Turning Work?

CNC turning is a manufacturing process that uses computer-controlled lathes to precisely shape material into cylindrical parts. Initially, the design of the part is created using CAD software and converted into instructions for the CNC machine using CAM software. During setup, the correct cutting tools are installed, and a cylindrical workpiece is secured in the machine’s chuck, which holds and rotates the material.

As the machine operates, the workpiece spins at high speeds while the cutting tools move along various axes to carve, cut, and shape the material based on the program’s specifications. Operations such as facing, threading, knurling, and drilling are performed during this stage. A coolant is often applied to prevent overheating and to wash away debris.

After machining, the part may undergo additional finishing processes like sanding or polishing. The final step involves a thorough inspection to ensure the part meets all the required dimensions and tolerances. This process allows for high precision and repeatability, making CNC turning ideal for producing complex parts efficiently.

How Does CNC Turning Work

Advantages of CNC Turning

CNC turning offers several distinct advantages that make it a preferred method for manufacturing precise cylindrical parts. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Precision and Accuracy: Machines are capable of achieving extremely tight tolerances, essential for components that must fit seamlessly into complex assemblies.
  • Efficiency: Once programmed and set up, these machines produce parts quickly and with consistent quality, often requiring minimal supervision, which accelerates production cycles.
  • Flexibility: The ability to reprogram the machines for different designs quickly makes them highly adaptable to varying production needs, enhancing operational responsiveness.
  • Repeatable: The automated nature ensures that each part is identical, even across large production volumes, crucial for maintaining quality in mass production.
  • Reduced Labor Costs: Automation reduces the need for manual intervention, cutting labor costs and minimizing human error, thereby enhancing overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Material Versatility: The machines handle a wide range of materials, from various metals to plastics and composites, accommodating diverse manufacturing demands.
  • Improved Safety: The enclosed, automated operation minimizes human interaction, reducing the risk of accidents and promoting a safer workplace.

Applications of CNC Turning

CNC turning is adept at producing a variety of precision components, often used in mechanisms where accuracy and fit are critical. Here’s an overview of some typical parts made through this process:

  • Shafts are fundamental in various machines, serving as axes or pivots. Precision in diameter and surface finish is crucial for their interaction with other mechanical parts.
  • Flanges connect pipes, pumps, or valves, requiring accurate machining to ensure a secure fit and avoid leaks.
  • Bushings and Sleeves provide smooth surfaces for other parts to move against or through, necessitating exact internal diameters and smooth finishes.
  • Pins are small but vital for aligning or holding components together, often needing precise dimensions to fit snugly into place.
  • Knobs and Dials are user interface elements for machinery and electronic devices, where aesthetics and precise dimensions enhance usability.
  • Wheels and Rollers are integral to systems like conveyors, where consistent shape and smoothness reduce friction and wear.


CNC turning produces cylindrical and symmetrical parts around their axis. This process is typically used for manufacturing items like shafts, pins, rods, bushings, and pulleys. It’s also well-suited for creating external threads, internal boreholes, and even complex contours on cylindrical surfaces. The precision of CNC turning allows for tight tolerances and a smooth finish, making it ideal for parts that require exact fits and movements, commonly found in automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing machinery.

Yes, CNC turning is versatile enough to handle various materials, including plastics. Plastics commonly turned on CNC lathes include ABS, Polycarbonate, PTFE (Teflon), Nylon, and Acetal. Each material offers different properties; for instance, Nylon is known for its strength and friction resistance, while Acetal provides excellent machinability and dimensional stability. Turning plastics requires precise control of cutting speeds and tool selection to prevent melting or deformation, ensuring the production of high-quality, precise parts suitable for a range of applications.

CNC milling and CNC turning are both subtractive manufacturing processes, but they differ in how the material is removed.

In CNC milling, the workpiece is stationary, and the cutting tool moves across multiple axes to remove material and create the desired shape. This process is ideal for complex parts with various features such as slots, holes, and contours.

On the other hand, CNC turning involves rotating the workpiece while a stationary cutting tool removes material. This method is best suited for producing cylindrical parts, such as shafts, rings, and bolts. While milling can handle more complex geometries, turning is typically faster and more efficient for producing round parts.

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