The Difference Between Conventional and Non-Conventional Machining Process

07 April 2020

Most people don’t know that the manufacturing process consist of two groups namely the primary and secondary processes. The primary process creates the basic shape and size of the material while the secondary one – otherwise known as the machining process provides the final shape and size with a tighter control on dimensions, surface characteristics, etc. To further understand the secondary manufacturing process, you must know the difference between the conventional and non-conventional machining process.

Tools Used

Conventional machining process must always have a physical tool present. For instance, a cutting tool in a Lathe machine. On the other hand, there may not be a physical tool present in a non-conventional machining process. For example in laser machines, laser beams carry out the task while electrochemical machining requires a physical tool in order to accomplish the process.

Tool and Work Piece Contact 

Conventional machining process involves the direct contact of tool and work piece, whereas unconventional machining does not require the direct contact of tool and work piece.


Conventional machining process has lower accuracy and surface finish while non-conventional machining has higher accuracy and surface finish.

Waste Material

Since conventional machining process has tools with a lesser lifespan due to high surface contact and wear, they are also likely to cause a higher waste of material. With tools with a greater lifespan, non conventional machining has a lower waste material due to low or no wear.

Machining Process

Conventional machining process usually involves changing the shape of a work piece using an implement made of a harder material. Using conventional methods to machine hard metals and alloys means increased demand of time and energy and therefore increases in costs. In some cases, conventional machining may not be feasible.

Conventional machining also costs in terms of tool wear and in loss of quality in the product because of induced residual stresses during the manufacturing process. With the ever-increasing demand for manufactured goods made of hard alloys and metals, more interest has gravitated to non-conventional machining methods.

Energy Source

Conventional machining can be defined as a process using mechanical energy. Non-conventional machining utilises other forms of energy. The three main forms of energy used in non-conventional machining are thermal, chemical and electrical energy.


Examples of conventional machining processes are turning, boring, milling, shaping, broaching, slotting, grinding etc. Similarly, Abrasive Jet Machining (AJM), Ultrasonic Machining (USM), Water Jet and Abrasive Water Jet Machining (WJM and AWJM), Electro-discharge Machining (EDM) are some of the non conventional machining processes.

For more information, contact Aero Spec Engineering. We are constantly investing and upgrading all areas of manufacturing within our organisation to reassure our clients they have a competitive edge with quality, price, and punctual delivery. We have built long standing client relationships by collaborating with clients for the best manufacturing outcome.

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