A machine tool is a machine for shaping or machining metal or other rigid materials, usually by cutting, boring, grinding, shearing, or other forms of deformation. Machine tools employ some sort of tool that does the cutting or shaping. All machine tools have some means of constraining the workpiece and provide a guided movement of the parts of the machine. Thus the relative movement between the workpiece and the cutting tool (which is called the toolpath) is controlled or constrained by the machine to at least some extent, rather than being entirely “offhand” or “freehand”.
The precise definition of the term machine tool varies among users, as discussed below. While all machine tools are “machines that help people to make things”, not all factory machines are machine tools. Today machine tools are typically powered other than by human muscle (e.g., electrically, hydraulically, or via line shaft), used to make manufactured parts (components) in various ways that include cutting or certain other kinds of deformation. With their inherent precision, machine tools enabled the economical production of interchangeable parts.