Abstract Most existing machining simulation software is geometric in nature, and ignores the physical aspects of the process. This paper reports research progress towards developing a comprehensive physical machining process simulation program based on a solid modelling kernel. Both flat and ball end tools are modelled, and multi-axis motion is supported. A Finite Element Analysis model is used to predict both tool and part deflection. A special sweep representation is used for Boolean part model updating. The system can be used for prediction as well as for intelligent factory floor control. Several examples of completed work are included to illustrate developed techniques. A discussion section presents computation time data, and outlines how parallel processing could be utilised.