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CNC Milling vs. CNC Turning

Precision machining is any machining process that produces components with tight tolerances. Some of the most popular processes utilize CNC (computer numerical control) technology, which uses a programmed set of instructions to create complex, repeatable 3D parts.
CNC machining consists of two main subtypes: CNC milling and CNC turning. Both types of subtractive manufacturing, or removing material from the workpiece to produce a part with the desired features and dimensions. However, milling and turning rely on different processes and tools to achieve different outcomes. Here we’ll discuss in more detail what distinguishes CNC milling from CNC turning, comparing their respective features and applications.

What Is CNC Milling?

In the CNC milling process, a rotating cutting tool makes cuts in a workpiece that is moved in multiple linear and rotational axes simultaneously to produce specified shapes. These movements are defined as linear and circular interpolation respectively. CNC milling can create complex features, shapes and contours, especially when using 4- or 5-axis CNC milling machines.
Other features such as drilled, threaded, reamed or bored holes to name a few are produced while holding the part stationary in all other axes while advancing the linear axes (known as the spindle axis) that the cutting tool is rotating around. Thrusting the cutting tool into the workpiece generates these round shaped features. These features are known as point to point features.
CNC milling is ideal for square, rectangular or irregular shaped workpieces with flat surfaces. CNC milling can be employed to produce round parts but it is the ability to create irregular shapes that differentiates CNC milling apart from CNC turning.

What Is CNC Turning?

CNC turning rotates the workpiece rather than the tool to make cuts in cylindrical or conical workpieces. Unlike CNC milling tools, CNC turning tools don’t rotate. They are held in a non-rotating fixed condition while they are moved in multiple linear axes about the rotating workpiece removing material to produce the desired features, shapes, and dimensions.
Other features such as drilled, threaded, reamed or bored holes can be produced on the part centerline which is aligned with the parts center of rotation in the turning process.
Typically, CNC Turning is a more productive method of material removal if a cylindrical shape is required.

Applications of CNC Milling vs. CNC Turning

Various applications rely on both CNC milling and CNC turning to shape complex workpieces.
CNC milling is especially suited for irregular shapes or flat surfaces, while CNC turning is preferred for applications involving shaft, symmetrical, cylindrical, or conical shaped workpieces.
Applications of both CNC Milling and Turning are well suited across most industries, precision requirements, and volume levels.

CNC Milling & CNC Turning Services at Solutions Manufacturing, Inc.

CNC milling and CNC turning are both high-precision subtraction manufacturing methods. CNC milling relies on a rotating tool to cut material from a stationary stock, whereas CNC turning rotates the stock material around a stationary cutting tool. Both methods are widely used to produce components for any industry that requires precision parts.
Founded in 1994, Solutions Manufacturing, Inc. is a highly specialized, automated machine shop. We use the latest technology to offer the highest quality parts with competitive prices and fast lead times. We specialize in precision CNC turning and milling services, and our value-added secondary services include finishing and assembly. We are ISO 9001:2015 certified to provide consistent, high-quality solutions to all our customers.
Contact us to learn more about our machining capabilities, or request a quote to start your custom solution.

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