Tapping: A Machining Process
The most popular method of cutting internal threads in parts is by the use of taps. This process is called tapping. Typically taps can perform the threading task faster and more economically than other methods such as single point turning on a lathe.
While there are a wide variety of taps on the market here are the basic types:
- Hand tap – this tap typically has four flutes and can be designed for taper, plug or bottom tapping.
- Spiral point or gun tap – this tap is very similar to the hand tap except that the design of the flute at the point is different to make the tap stronger, to help with chip buildup and to speed the tapping process.
- Spiral flute tap or helical-fluted tap – this tap comes in a wide variety of helix angles and does a great job at chip evacuation during the tapping process.
Taps are typically made from high-speed steels and other materials such as tungsten carbide. There are also special coatings that are applied for help with prolonged tool life. Tap threads are typically ground from these hard materials. The tapping process can be performed by hand with the help of a tapping handle or by machines such as lathes, mills, drill presses and tapping machines.
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