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What Is A CNC Milling Machine?

What Is A CNC Milling Machine?

2 Oct 20

CNC Milling Machines are incredibly useful pieces of machinery to both commercial and industrial production. The aerospace industry, the medical industry and the electronics industry are all able to benefit from the products of CNC Milling – but how do these machines operate, and what makes them so unique?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control milling. This essentially means that the milling machine is moved and monitored by numerical computer control, rather than by hand. CNC milling tools perform a machining process similar to drilling and cutting parts with incredible precision, and therefore leave no room for human error. The process is an increasingly popular industrial solution since it can accommodate detailed sizes and shapes of all kinds of material.


How do CNC Milling Machines work?

A CNC Milling Machine uses a rotating cylindrical cutter to move along multiple axes, and create slots, holes and details in material to turn it into a vehicle or mechanical part. Most machines operate on three to five axes, creating much more precision and detail. Modern CNC milling machines are assembled as both horizontal and vertical machining centers. Components can be made with materials such as plastics, ceramics, and composite materials, in addition to metals. Technical features include automatic tool changers, tool carousels & magazines, coolant systems, and enclosures to keep machines running smoothly on their own without manual interference.


What are the different types of CNC Milling Machines?

The orientation of a CNC Milling Machine has a significant effect on the final product. A Vertical mill is a very standard type of milling machine, simply meaning that the spindle axis on the mill is vertically oriented. Vertical CNC Milling Machines usually have long and thin cutting tools, while Horizontal machines have shorter and thicker cutting tools. 

Horizontal mills are not as versatile and are typically much better suited for long material work, often used to cut gears or for axle machining. 

Turret mills work vertically, and their spindle does not move, while their table adjusts parallel and perpendicularly to do the cutting job. CNC Turret Milling Machines are most effective when they remain relatively small, so they are best suited to detailed work – such as creating parts for toys and plaques.

CNC Bed mills are similar to Turret Milling Machines. Still, their below table only adjusts perpendicularly to perform the cutting, meaning they can be built larger since their frame is more rigid than the Turret. A larger build allows for larger jobs, so Bed mills are perfect for jobs such as milling parts for mid-sized electronics that the Turret mills couldn’t handle.


How does a CNC Milling Machine benefit business?

As previously mentioned, Computer Numerical Control milling is incredibly precise. Small mills, such as the Turret, can be programmed to perform complex processes like cutting intricate medical machine parts with very little human interference. All parts will be uniform, meaning a consistent batch of products and few mistakes for commercial or industrial businesses to pay for. Standard milling machines are subject to the hand, and therefore to error and imperfection. 

An initial purchase of a CNC Milling Machine may feel costly. Still, one operator can maintain an entire workforce of machines electronically, ultimately saving money on labour in the long run. The CNC Milling process is also faster than 3D printing with a broader range of materials available to use, meaning aerospace companies, electronics factories, and medical companies alike can reap the benefits of CNC milling in their respective fields.


CNC Milling Machines are incredibly versatile, with different types to fit all size and business need. Where precision is key to a product functioning, there isn’t a more reliable choice for machinery than Computer Numerical Control, despite the higher price point initially. For further information, or to discuss your needs with a professional, don’t hesitate to call our friendly team on 03302 234567.

Article written by: Mike

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