What Is the Difference between CNC Milling and CNC Turning?

CNC milling and CNC turning are the most commonly used machining styles in any given shop. Both rely on computer numerical control (CNC) programming, which directs the movement of a cutting machine along a predetermined path. Essentially, a CNC machine uses computer programming to cut away material in a specific way. The result is a part that is accurate and repeatable.

Milling and turning differ in very important ways, though. Milling removes material by advancing a tool that rotates incredibly fast into the stock material and the moving it along that CNC-determined path. Imagine a drill moving towards a piece of wood.

Turning, however, uses a lathe machine. On a lathe, the material is what spins while a stationary tool advances into it. Imagine a clay pot being made, spinning on a pottery wheel. The main difference between CNC milling and CNC turning is which piece spins: the cutting tool or the stock material.

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