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A machine tool is a powered device mostly used to fabricate metal components through the process of machining (selective removal of metal). Machine tools may operate under manual or automatic control.

Many technology historians conclude that “real” machine tools came about when the direct involvement of humans was eliminated from the molding process of different tools. In 1483, a prototype of the lathe was first developed as a mechanical screw-cutting machine that directly controlled the cutting process. It created screw threads in wood employing a slide rest. In the early 1800s, Matthew Murray created and sold the first commercially-available machine tools.

Earlier machine tools utilized flywheels for stable motion. These had gear-and-lever systems for machine control. After the Second World War, NC (Numerical Control) machines were developed. The NC system’s paper tape and punch cards controlled these machine tools. In the ‘60s, CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machines allowed more adaptability to the operating process. NCs and CNCs could invariably repeat sequences with more precision and complexity than the most experienced tool workers could.

Eventually, these machines could shift automatically between different cutting and shaping implements. The next step was the combination of different machine tools into one system under computer control. These systems, now called machining centers, have drastically influenced manufacturing as we know it.

Most machine tools today are electric. Almost all machine tools are able to self-replicate to some degree. They can manufacture machine parts as their basic function.

Some of the most important machine tools are listed below:

* Broaching Machines
* Drill Presses
* Gear Shapers
* Grinders
* Hobbing Machines
* Hones
* Lathes
* Milling Machines
* Planers
* Shapers
* Stewart Platform Mills

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