Choosing the Right Surface Finish for CNC Machining

Want to get the most out of your machined part? Here's what you need to know about finishes.

A CNC machined part isn’t done once the machine stops running.

Finishing is the final step in the manufacturing process (outside of assembly) and involves various techniques to improve your parts’ appearance, functionality, and durability. The finishing process is crucial to achieving the desired properties of your machined parts.

This article will explore some of the most popular finishes for CNC machining, from sandblasting to painting and everything in between. By understanding the benefits of each method, you can choose the right finishing option for your specific application.


Metal is heated to a high temperature during hardening and then quickly cooled.

This process changes the part’s mechanical properties, making it stronger and more wear-resistant. Hardening is commonly used for parts that will undergo heavy usage or wear. There are several types of hardening, including case hardening, through hardening, and induction hardening. Case hardening is the most common.

When to use hardening: Hardening is ideal for parts that need to withstand high stress or wear, such as gears, bearings, and cutting tools.

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Tempering is similar to heating in that it involves heating a metal to a specific temperature. The difference is that the part is cooled slowly rather than quickly.

This process improves the metal’s toughness and ductility, making it less brittle and more able to withstand deformation.

When to use tempering: Tempering is best used for parts that need to maintain their strength while also being able to bend or deform slightly, such as springs and shafts.


The anodizing process involves creating a protective oxide layer on the surface of a metal. The part is immersed in an electrolytic solution, and a current passes through it.

Anodizing creates a hard, durable, and corrosion-resistant surface. Afterward, the part can also be easily dyed in various colors.

When to use anodizing: This finish is commonly used for parts that need to resist corrosion and wear, such as medical equipment and aerospace components.


As you probably know, painting is a process that involves applying a coating of paint to a surface.

This coating adds a desired color and provides some surface protection. Paints can be formulated to resist corrosion, abrasion, and other environmental factors.

When to paint: Painting is ideal for parts that need to be aesthetically pleasing or require protection against the elements (such as parts that will be outdoors)

Black Oxidizing

Black oxidizing adds a black finish to the surface of a metal.

The metal is immersed in an oxidizing solution, which creates a thin layer of black oxide on the surface. This finish improves the part’s wear resistance and looks visually appealing.

When to use black oxidizing: Black oxidizing is commonly used for parts that need to be visually appealing or wear-resistant.


Abrasive particles are propelled at the part’s surface during the sandblasting process.

This process can create a matte finish, improve grip, or remove unwanted material from a part’s surface for a smoother surface.

When to use sandblasting: Sandblasting is ideal for parts that need a specific texture or grip.

Sourcing Your CNC Machined Parts 

Choosing the right finishing option for your CNC machined parts is essential to achieve the desired properties and functionality.

Each finishing option has unique advantages and is suitable for different applications. Whether you need to improve a part’s wear resistance, make it corrosion-resistant, or improve its appearance, a finishing option can help.

The MakerVerse platform can also help. We offer a one-stop shop where you can source parts from the full range of manufacturing technologies – including CNC machining – with the necessary finishes.