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What is the Difference Between CNC Milling and Turning?

What is the Difference Between CNC Milling and Turning?
April 11, 2023
Sustainment Team

Due to its advanced precision and a repeatability that manual processes are hard-pressed to match on their own, CNC technologies, like CNC milling and turning, have come to dominate the metal forming industry in recent years. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, and there are many different forms of CNC technologies, which can make it hard for people outside the industry to know the differences between them and what they’re used for.

In this article, we’ll be looking specifically at CNC milling and turning, two procedures that share clear similarities. At the same time, CNC milling and turning have distinct, important differences between them, so they are not interchangeable terms for the same process. As to CNC milling vs. turning and which one is better, that really depends upon the needs of the project, as we’ll see shortly.

CNC Milling

CNC Milling is a machine process that progressively removes material from the workpiece by using computerized controls and multi-point cutting tools. This process produces custom-designed components and parts. The range of motion for the cutting tools is somewhat limited, which reduces speed, so CNC milling is better for prototypes, smaller production runs, and precision components and parts. CNC mills are much better than CNC turning when it comes to conserving metal materials, so over time, CNC milling saves on material costs over the lifespan of the machine.

CNC milling has production capabilities that include chemical, electrical, mechanical, and thermal processes.

CNC Turning

In this process, a chuck holds bars of material and rotates them. While this is happening, a tool fed to the piece removes material until the desired shape is attained. This process of shaping by removal is called subtraction machining. CNC turning produces parts faster and more affordably than CNC milling does, and it’s an excellent choice for large production runs that have short lead times. Since it does not conserve materials as well as CNC milling does, material costs will be higher over time.

The turning lathes in CNC turning are often used for boring, drilling, facing, grooving, knurling, and parting.

While each process has its distinct advantages and drawbacks, several industries use both CNC milling and turning for various production needs. Those industries include electrical discharge machining (EDM), the electrical industry, metal removing (in the automotive and manufacturing industries), material fabrication, and woodworking.

Find CNC Milling and Turning Services Near You

If your business needs parts produced by CNC milling and turning, the first step for you is to find a reliable CNC milling and turning service near you. Finding a local CNC mill turn center that you can count on may require time that you really can’t afford to lose when there’s already so much else going on.

That’s how Sustainment can help. While we don’t provide CNC milling and turning services ourselves, we do make available to our clients a powerful search tool that allows them to find trustworthy CNC mill turn solutions quickly and easily, and it works for other manufacturing industries as well.

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