CNC machining services are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The distinction between CNC machining and CNC turning, two common CNC technologies, is explained in this article.
CNC machining is a quick manufacturing method that uses selective material removal to convert digital 3D drawings into plastic or metal pieces. Many businesses use CNC machining services to produce parts and prototypes, and many industries make use of this adaptable technology.
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CNC machining, on the other hand, comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although all CNC machining technologies use the same process — software converts a digital design into machine instructions, which tell the CNC machine how to cut material — the hardware used to cut material varies widely.
This article compares and contrasts two of these machines: CNC mills and CNC turning machines (or lathes centers).
In this post, we go over the fundamentals of CNC milling and CNC turning, as well as the key benefits of each technique and a sample of common parts that may be produced using each method.
What is CNC Milling, and how does it work?
CNC milling is a typical CNC machining service that machinists can utilize to create a wide range of CNC machined products. CNC mills are frequently used by prototype firms to create one-off functioning prototypes.
CNC mills drive a fast-rotating cutting tool along three or more axes using computer instructions. The rotating cutting tool takes material from the workpiece in a controlled manner when it comes into contact with it. The cutting tool performs a series of passes against the workpiece’s surface until it looks like the desired part.
The workpiece is held stationary on the machine bed by vice in most CNC mills. Multi-axis CNC mills, on the other hand, can rock or rotate the workpiece to provide more cutting angles. This enables the machinist to make more intricate parts without having to realign the workpiece manually.
CNC milling is used by fast prototype companies because it is a one-stop, end-to-end process with low lead times.
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What is CNC Turning, and how does it work?
CNC turning is a type of CNC machining that is used to create rounded, cylindrical, and conical objects by machinists. It is one of the most popular CNC machining and quick prototyping services, despite being less versatile than CNC milling.
CNC lathes and CNC turning centers are machines that do CNC turning. They differ from CNC mills in that they rapidly rotate the workpiece in a chuck while leaving the cutting tool stationary. The cutting tool, which is attached to a turret, travels towards the spinning workpiece in response to computer commands and removes material as needed.
To manufacture tubular CNC machined parts, a CNC lathe can cut the outside of the workpiece or bore through the inside.
The machine’s turret may have many cutting tools that can be engaged individually as needed.
CNC Milling’s Benefits:
Manufacturers and prototype shops benefit from CNC mills in a variety of ways. Mills, unlike lathes, are versatile equipment capable of producing a variety of shapes. In addition, different cutting tools can be utilized for different processes including roughing and end-milling.
Mills are important for post-machining, even though they are manufacturing machines in their own right. They can be used to add details to turned, molded, or 3D printed parts, for example.
CNC milling is also quick, repeatable, and cost-effective in small batches, because of the lack of tooling. As a result, it can be found in manufacturing and quick prototyping services.
CNC Turning’s Benefits:
The capacity to manufacture round profiles is the most significant advantage of CNC turning. Other CNC machining services, such as CNC milling or CNC routing, make perfect roundness much more difficult to obtain.
CNC turning is also extremely exact, making it a useful tool for boring holes with precise dimensions and tight tolerances.
CNC milling and CNC turning can be used together to get the best of both worlds. CNC turning is usually done first, allowing the machinist to mill more (asymmetrical) details on the workpiece.
Parts milled with a CNC machine:
Milled fittings are used to join two or more pieces together.
Enclosures and housings: Custom-milled enclosures can safeguard internal components in electrical gadgets and other products.
Brackets: Milled brackets are more sophisticated than sheet metal brackets because they might have unique threads and holes.
Gears: For mechanical devices, CNC milling may make straight and spiral gears.
Mold tooling: Made of steel or aluminum, milled tooling provides for quick prototyping of molded items.
CNC milling is used by automotive engineers for engine blocks and other parts.
Implants, surgical equipment, and other medical items can all be made with CNC mills.
Multi-axis mills can produce reliable impellers for hydraulic equipment, such as water pumps.
Other production equipment, such as forming punches for sheet metal fabrication, can be made with CNC mills.
CNC Milling components:
- Enclosures and housings
- Mold tooling
- Engine parts
- Medical devices
- Water pumps
- Forming punches
CNC Turning components:
- Ball joints
- Nuts and bolts
Which one should you pick?
CNC turning is better for products with round, cylindrical, or conical profiles, and CNC milling is preferable for anything else, as a rule of thumb. If you’re unsure, a machining professional can help you find the best CNC machining service for your needs.
However, CNC milling and CNC turning can be used in tandem to great success. CNC milling can be used after CNC turning if an item has a generally round shape but also requires asymmetrical cuts or features. CNC turning can also be used after CNC milling, albeit it is less frequent. For example, if a boxy or irregular-shaped object requires a huge hole bored in its center, CNC turning can be used.cluecrossword
Finally, you don’t always have to choose: CNC milling-turning centers combine the advantages of both technologies into a single machine.