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    Legitimate CNC machining facilities always have to turn and machine milling to accomplish certain tasks, but what are those exactly? Moreover, how are those tasks different from small-scale shops, and which one is better for your project? Let’s discuss the capabilities of modern CNC turning and milling rigs to understand how it all works.

    What are the basics of CNC turning and milling?

    The metal forming industry has never been the same since CNC technology came on the stage. In fact, computer numerical control techniques now offer enhanced precision and rapid repeatability as a default – two things that are virtually impossible to recreate with manual methods alone. Thus, turning and milling are often staples in many machining plans.

    Knowing this, expert machinists have developed countless tailored approaches over the years. In turn, that can make it difficult to distinguish one technique from another or understand why they’re used. For example, there are numerous similarities between CNC milling and turning, but there are also several important distinctions.

    How are CNC milling and turning different?

    For decades, CNC milling has been used synonymously with general CNC machining. However, that can be a grave mistake for project managers and engineers who need the most efficient outcomes. So, these are the primary differences to consider:

    A. CNC Milling

    As one of the most efficient CNC machining operations, milling machines produce tailored designs for customized parts and components. Machinists progressively remove surface material with multi-axis cutting tools to reveal the desired form. However, this process is somewhat slow compared to other processes because of its limited dimensional operation. So, it’s most ideal for rapid prototyping and small-scale production runs.

    B. CNC Turning

    This popular machining process usually churns out parts faster than milling, plus the total price of production is often cheaper. That’s because CNC mill cutting tools have a notoriously limited range of motion while turning machines can expose more sides on any given workpiece. Meanwhile, this method isn’t ideal for material conservation but it helps teams create more complex designs for large-scale production without fudging the budget or schedule.

    Both methods have their pros and cons, and much of the outcome depends on the materials you use. So, be sure to ask your machining team for more detailed information before planning your next project.

    Common CNC milling and turning applications

    CNC machining services such as milling and turning help make our world what it is today, with most industries employing a machine shop at some point in their marketing and development processes. As such, there are multiple options for project managers to enjoy this level of precision fabrication for their own parts and components regardless of the chosen material, order size, or timeline.

    In fact, here are a few places where milling machines really shine:

    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
    • Thermal
    • Chemical

    These applications are ideal because the CNC mill provides exemplary material conservation. That leads to lower production costs, fewer wasted scraps, and shorter lead times in many cases. Moreover, CNC milling machines can fabricate short-run parts as well as precision products and prototype components.

    On the other hand, CNC turning lathes are generally used for specific operations which may or may not be essential to electrical, mechanical, thermal, or chemical applications. In general, turning machines are capable of doing the following things instead:

    • Facing
    • Parting
    • Grooving
    • Boring
    • Drilling
    • Knurling

    Granted, both machining techniques may be used on the same part or component to achieve different results at different stages and create the final product. However, that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing nor does it indicate a similar outcome. Also, CNC milling and turning machines are often used by the same industries because of their consistent precision and reliability. Still, certain production regulations may either require or restrict some methods.

    So, discuss the options with your machining crew before calculating the total cost of your machining project.

    Which industries use CNC milling and turning machines the most?

    Companies within the same industry can use advanced CNC turning and milling machines for different applications, even if those applications are generally used for something else. Many times, machining outcomes depend on the machines used, the machinists operating them, the initial design, and the raw materials chosen. So, a dedicated staff of experts should help you determine whether these techniques are ideal for your industry or not.

    In the meantime, these are the industries that use precision CNC turning and milling the most:

    • Electronics and Technology
    • Medical
    • Automotive
    • Aerospace
    • Marine
    • Transportation
    • Oil and Gas
    • Military and Defense

    NOTE: Both procedures are also used quite often in metal fabrication and metal removal for large-scale and small-scale manufacturing projects.

    Fun facts about CNC milling and turning machines

    Did you know that there are five different types of CNC machines? Turning and milling rigs are only two of them. And since computer numerical control is such a vital part of so many industries, it stands to reason that machining experts would eventually develop additional manufacturing machines like these:

    • CNC plasma cutters
    • CNC drilling machines
    • CNC grinders

    Although extremely powerful and crucial for the advancement of our society in countless ways, modern CNC turning and milling machines can only do so much. Plus, not all machines are made with the same quality and programming knowledge is always an important factor. And while technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, there are still some machine shops that haven’t yet caught up with the times.

    Therefore, you’ll enjoy better project outcomes from a well-equipped manufacturing facility that uses an array of advanced machining procedures.

    Start and finish more efficiently

    Whether you’re using CNC turning and milling machines or something else, never approach a complex project without our experts by your side. Pioneer Cuts machinists boast vast experience with both processes, and they also know when to try another approach for better outcomes. So, get your free 6-hour quote online today to start and finish your projects with greater efficiency.

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