What is the Difference between Manual and Semi-Automated Precision Machining?

When it comes to choosing the right level of automation for your machining process, it’s important to understand the nature of what you are machining, and the specific requirements you have. While automating wherever possible seems like a popular a cost-effective option, the reality is that this will depend on the unique goals and specifications of your part. When choosing between manual and semi-automated precision machining, it’s important to understand the difference between these two options as well as discussing your choices with an expert precision engineering professional.


Manual precision machining can be useful when you have specific requirements for pieces and parts that the CNC machines cannot produce. Manual machining can also be more economical for simple components that can be completed by manual operators while CNC machines are busy running other parts. Manual machines are cheaper and easier to set up and are smaller than CNC machines so that they can work well in smaller spaces. When you are completing a small order, such as for a single part, it makes sense to use manual machining, rather than setting up the CNC design and machine for one part.

However, manual precision machining can be less precise due to the margin of human error. Manual machining is also slower for each piece and can only be done with an operator present.

manual precision machining, Semi-Automated Precision MachiningSEMI-AUTOMATED PRECISION MACHINING

With semi-automatic machining, some of the machining processes are completed by automated machines and some of the process is achieved by manual operation. The manual operation component may be as simple as feeding the raw material into the machine, or as involved as manually finishing the part or inspecting the process at every single stage.

Semi-automated machining can be helpful when you can automate some aspects of the machining process but need to maintain operator control for other parts of the process. Semi-automated production can be much quicker and more efficient than fully manual machining, producing a higher volume of machined parts with less operator involvement. This can be beneficial to increase output, even when the machining process can’t be entirely automated reliably and safely for that particular part.


When choosing between manual, semi-automated, and fully automated precision machining, selecting the right option for you depends on what you are machining and your needs and requirements for the part. Using the proper process to machine your part is just as important as using the right machine for the job. When you are working with an experienced precision engineer, they can help analyze your needs for precision engineering and recommend the best solution for you. The quantity and complexity of your parts will determine what type of machining process will be appropriate. Typically, the more significant quantities will allow the process to become more automated and make the project more cost-effective.

If you have questions about how to machine the part you require, or which machining process would work best for you, talk to our expert precision engineers today about your ideal machining solution.