Achieve Precision for Machining: CNC Milling or Turning

CNC Turning and Milling Resemblance

“How Exactly Are CNC Turning and CNC Milling Different for Machining? As for me, all I want is precision. Can You Help Me Understand?”

Well, this situation is something common in most cases we undertake. Many of our clients find it challenging to evaluate the differences between CNC milling and CNC turning methods used for machining to achieve precision and accuracy in metal and plastic parts. If you are on the same page, today’s blog is for you.

Where Do the Differences Lie Between CNC Milling and Turning Methods for Machining?

Both CNC milling and turning are two different machining techniques used to design metal and plastic parts to achieve precision and accuracy, especially for complex components. These two methods have some distinctions in the stock materials, tools they use, and ways of machining. 

For instance, CNC milling rotates the cutting tool against a workpiece for precision, using any rectangular or square bar stock to design metal and plastic parts. On the contrary, CNC turning follows just the opposite technique by spinning the workpiece against the cutting tool, where it utilizes a round bar stock primarily for machined parts. 

However, there are some similarities as well.

CNC Turning and Milling Resemblance

Both CNC milling and CNC turning follow subtractive manufacturing processes to achieve precision. They eliminate the unwanted materials from the workpiece using the latest controlled process, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology. It allows engineers to set these machines up using Computer-Aided Design software (CAD) to minimize the risks of human error and the need for supervision and achieve precision, consistent quality, and rapid lead times. 

Moreover, these two machining methods are appropriate for designing precise and accurate metal and thermoplastic parts, including copper, steel, titanium, aluminum, steel, and more. However, turning and milling techniques are not suitable for creating ceramic, silicone, and rubber parts. 

CNC Milling and Turning Distinctions

When it comes to precision CNC machining, CNC milling is the most suitable machining method to go for. It spins the milling cutter (cutting tool) against the workpiece surface, which rotates at high RPMs to remove the unwanted materials, such as 2 to 150 cutting surfaces, usually, and even more sometimes. We recommend choosing the milling machining technique for parts or components with a flat or sculptured surface on rectangular and square blocks. 

Contrarily, CNC turning machines (lathes) hold the round bar stock with a chuck following a gripping mechanism. A spindle spins the chuck at a preset RPM, where the speed varies depending on the materials used for machining, the features of the parts desired, and the machine. Some CNC turning machines have one spindle to create the component design from one side, while a few turning centers come with sub-spindles, along with the main one, to design a part partially by the primary spindle and add additional features using the sub-spindles to another end of the part. 

Also, there is another turning technique, known as CNC Swiss turning machines, appropriate for different materials, shapes, and sizes. These machines utilize the live tooling method to add additional features to the components, such as small milled features, slots, drilled holes, and much more, by stopping the rotation. 

Compared to CNC milling, CNC turning offers faster lead times and more efficiency in producing machined parts. 

In a Nutshell

Overall, the choice of CNC machining process between milling and turning depends on the design and features of the components. Usually, we recommend turning for mostly cylindrical parts and milling for flat, square, and large parts. 

At ProtoTech Machining Co., Limited, we offer CNC prototype machining for plastic and metal parts with precision across various industries, from medical to aerospace to automotive. We strive to deliver components on-demand using our CNC turning and milling up to 5-axis machining. Also, manual drilling, turning, milling, and typing are available. We have ISO 9001:2015 accreditation, Full Material Traceability and Certification, and compliance with Conflict Materials, H & S, REACH, RoHS, and WEEE.

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