The manufacturing of miniaturized components is indispensable in modern industries, where the uncut chip thickness (UCT) inevitably falls into a comparable magnitude with the tool edge radius. Under such circumstances, the ploughing phenomenon between workpiece and tool becomes predominant, followed by the notable formation of dead metal zone (DMZ) and piled-up chip. Although extensive models have been developed, the critical material flow status in such microscale is still confusing and controversial. In this study, a novel material separation model is proposed for the demonstration of workpiece flow mechanism around the tool edge radius. First, four critical positions of workpiece material separation are determined, including three points characterizing the DMZ pattern and one inside considered as stagnation point. The normal and shear stresses as well as friction factors along the entire contact region are clarified based on slip-line theory. It is found that the friction coefficient varies symmetrically about the stagnation point inside DMZ and remains constant for the rest. Then, an analytical force prediction model is developed with Johnson–Cook constitutive model, involving calibrated functions of chip-tool contact length and cutting temperature. The assumed tribology condition and morphologies of material separation including DMZ are clearly observed and verified through various finite element (FE) simulations. Finally, comparisons of cutting forces from cutting experiments and predicted results are adopted for the validation of the predictive model.