An Introduction to Boring Machines

Posted on Jun 24, 2020

An Introduction to Boring Machines

Boring machines are one of the key machine tool types. These machines can perform machining operations that are in demand in many different industries in today’s international manufacturing market: energy industry, oil and gas production, mining, aerospace, shipbuilding, communications, construction, and many more. Boring machines are very precise, intricate, versatile, and capable machine tools. In this article, we want to give you an introduction to boring machines, their applications, and key characteristics.

Boring operations – not boring at all

In machining, boring is the process of enlarging a hole that has already been drilled utilizing a single-point cutting tool such as in boring an engine cylinder. Boring is used to achieve greater accuracy of the diameter of a hole and can be used to cut a tapered hole and can be used for roughing or finishing an internal surface with very low tolerances. 

There are two main advantages of using a boring equipment rather than another machine tool. In general, they have a larger configurable envelope for a part; very large parts can easily be machined on a boring machine. Any workpiece that has to be machined and has dimensions beyond a certain envelope is typically done on a boring machine because traditional horizontal machining centers aren’t built for such large envelopes.

Besides, a boring machine features a spindle that prolongs from within its headstock. This allows the operator to reach into smaller cavities. Thanks to the live spindle you have the opportunity to keep the tooling short from the cutter point to where it fixes to the spindle which minimizes deflection and increases accuracy. 

:: Read more: Boring & Milling Machines Achieve Faster Machining


The History of Boring Machines

The first boring machine tool was invented by John Wilkinson in 1774/75. Who came up with a design for a boring machine in which the shaft with the cutting tool extended through the cylinder. (See Products: Boring Machines)With this machine, he was able to bore the cylinder for commercial steam engines. Wilkinson's invention was a breakthrough in the development of boring technology. Thanks to him boring machines applications became more and more popular in a wide range of industries.

The history of boring machines as we know them today goes back over a hundred years. The first industrial boring machines that resemble today’s machines were built in 1905. Back then boring machines were gear-driven, mechanical machines where the operator had to throw levels to engage clutches and change feed rates. The biggest development in boring machines since they emerged came with the invention of NC controls in the mid-1950s and followed by CNC controls starting in the 1970s.

Nowadays the vast majority of boring machines are CNC-controlled. Once the operator sets up the machining program and the workpiece, the boring machine takes care of the machining process itself. 

:: Read more: An Introduction to Boring Machines


Types of Boring Machines

There are two types of boring machines, horizontal and vertical. The spindle is mounted horizontally on a horizontal boring machine vertically on a vertical boring machine. On a horizontal boring machine, the workpiece is stationary and the tool turns, while on a vertical boring machine, the tool is stationary and the workpiece turns. This is the main difference between horizontal and vertical boring machines. The shape of a workpiece and other machining requirements determine which type of boring machine is most suitable to get the job done.

Horizontal machine givers you more versatility, because it doesn’t limit your part size.

Vertical and horizontal boring machines see equal amounts of use, depending on the machining requirements and part specifications.

:: Read more: The Top Reasons you need boring machining


Line-Boring vs Back-Boring: what’s the Difference?

Generally speaking, you can distinguish two main types of boring machine operations: line-boring and back-boring. 

The boring bar can be supported at both ends or one end only. If it is supported at both ends then it is probably for Line-boring. Whereas support at both ends indicates back-boring which is a process of reaching through an existing hole and then performing a boring operation on the backside of the part. 

Because of the tooling design limitations imposed by the fact that the workpiece mostly surrounds the tool, boring is inherently more challenging than turning because of decreased tool holding rigidity, increased clearance angle requirements, and the difficulty of inspecting the resulting surface (size, shape, surface). These are the main factors why boring is viewed as a separate machining discipline with its own, characteristics, tricks, challenges, and professional expertise necessary to ensure good boring results.


What Is the difference between Boring Machines and Drilling Machines?

Boring machines perform a cutting process that involves the use of a single-point cutting tool or boring head to enlarge an existing hole in a workpiece. Boring involves widening the inside diameter of a pre-drilled or precast hole. Keep in mind that this is just a general definition. There are several different types of boring processes, which often require custom machinery and/or tooling. 

Boring offers three main benefits. It can bring the size of a hole to a specified diameter, straighten a hole that has wandered off-center, or make it more concentric with an insert piece. Compared to other ways of achieving these goals, boring is fast, accurate, and cost-effective, making it ideal for mass production.

This is in stark contrast to drilling, which is performed to create an initial hole in a workpiece. Drilling involves the use of a drill bit to cut a circular-shape hole in a workpiece. The drill bit used in drilling is a type of rotary cutting tool that, like other rotary cutting tools, rotates while subsequently scraping material out of the workpiece. 

Boring machines are essential for machining automotive components as well as parts and products used in military and aerospace contracting, as well as general manufacturing. These and other processes require precise, reliable equipment.


Boring Machines on MTS Exhibition

You can find different boring machines in all price ranges on our site. Just head to our boring machine section or check out our search function to find hundreds of manufacturers in our product database.  If you want to learn more about boring machines and their applications make sure to check out our other blog entries. 

If you are interested in even more detailed manufacturing-related content make sure to check out our MTS Industry Channel. In this show, we introduce new products and trends while visiting manufacturers in their facilities!

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