Lathes are used in metalworking and plastic working as material removal machining. Lathing is done manually on a lathe or automatically on a lathe machine. In contrast with milling, here the work piece or semi-finished piece turns and with its rotation guides the main cutting movement. The securely clamped tool – also called the lathe tool – moves along the work piece with the aid of a tool slide or carrier, removing cuttings as it goes.
Only in specific cases such as thread whirling does the tool also contribute to the cutting action. In classic lathing, mainly rotationally symmetrical, parts are machined. Modern technology or CNC-lathes, also called turning centers, make it possible using driven tools to produce work pieces that formerly could be produced on milling machines only.