CNC milling is one of the manufacturing processes of CNC machining. This article will introduce its definition, applications, and advantages. If you are planning to make a CNC milling prototype, or need a CNC milling service, it’s highly recommended that you continue reading.

Definition of CNC Milling

To get to know CNC milling, you need first to understand what CNC is. CNC, Computer Numerical Control (also known as Numerical Control), is the automated control of machining tools by means of a computer. While milling is the process of machining using rotary cutters to remove material by advancing a cutter into a workpiece. 

The types of CNC milling include: face milling, shoulder milling, vertical milling, horizontal milling, plain milling, angular milling, form milling, tapping, drilling and some even can do turning. Nowadays, there are 3 to 6 axes’ CNC mills.

Applications of CNC Milling

As a designer or engineer, it may be not necessary to fully understand all the above CNC milling types. However, if you have a glimpse of how CNC milling is applied to get your designs made, you may get some implications to come up with an easier-to-realize design in a better way.

CNC Milling has a rotating cylindrical head and a number of chip slot milling cutters which is often called an end milling cutter. It can move along a different axis, used to process narrow and long spaces, grooves, contours, etc.

There are three major types of parts that are CNC milled.

1. Plane parts

When the machining plane is parallel or perpendicular to the horizontal plane or the angle between the machining plane and the horizontal plane is a fixed angle, the machined part is known as a plane part. 

According to the definition, at present, the vast majority of parts processed on CNC milling machines belong to plane parts. The feature of planar parts is that the surface of each machining unit is a plane, or can be unfolded into a plane. 

Plane parts are the most simple type of CNC milling object. Generally, when a 3-axis CNC milling machine applies just two axes, those parts can be made.

2. Parts with variable bevel angles

The parts, whose angles between the machining surface and the horizontal surface vary continuously, are called the parts with variable bevel angles. Most of these parts are airplane parts, such as integral beams, frames, rims, ribs, etc. In addition, inspection fixtures and assembly fixtures are also the parts with variable bevel angles. 

The machining surface of variable bevel parts can not be unfolded into a plane. But during the machining process, the moment when the machining surface and the milling cutter circumference contact, there is a straight line. The best choice to machine them is to use 4-axis or 5-axis CNC milling machines. And 3-axis CNC milling machines can be used for 2.5-coordinates approximate machining.

3. Curved surface parts

The parts whose machining surface is spatial surface are called curved surface parts.

One of the features of the parts is that the machining surface can not be unfolded into a plane. The other one is that the contact between the machining surface and the milling cutter is always point contact. Usually, we use a 3-axis CNC milling machine to produce them.

Broadly speaking, many rapid prototyping companies offer CNC milling services, manufacturing CNC milling prototypes and short-run products. And the CNC milling prototypes and components can be in plastic or metal materials. 

Advantages of CNC Milling

1. Excellent adaptability and flexibility

Via CNC milling, complex parts and those with difficult-to-control sizes can be easily produced, such as mold parts, enclosure parts, etc.

2. Stronger machining capacities than ordinary machines

It can process parts that can not be machined by ordinary machines, including complex curve parts described by mathematical models and 3D space surface parts.

3. Don’t need to change fixture location frequently

With one fixture location, you can finish producing the multi-process processing parts.

4. High tolerances, stable and reliable quality

The pulse equivalent of a CNC device is 0.001 mm, and those with high precision can reach 0.1 μm. In addition, CNC machining can avoid manual operation errors.

5. Highly automatic

Its high automation is able to reduce the operator's labor intensity, which is helpful for the automation of production management.

6. High production efficiency

Usually, CNC milling machines generally do not need to use special machining equipment such as special fixtures. Instead, when replacing a part, you just need to change the processing procedures, clamping tools, and adjust tool data that are stored within the machine. As a result, the production cycle is greatly shortened. Secondly, as the CNC milling machine is combined with milling, boring, drilling machine functions, the whole process is highly concentrated, greatly improving the production efficiency. In addition, the spindle speed and feed speed of the CNC milling machine are continuously variable, which is conducive to choosing the optimum cutting parameters.

Therefore, when it comes to making a prototype, a CNC milling prototype is a good choice.

The number of companies and workshops that are able to deliver CNC milling service is growing every year. Finding a CNC milling service provider is easy, but finding a trustworthy one is not.

X Rapid Technologies is a professional rapid prototyping and low-volume production service provider.

If you want to know more about CNC milling, CNC milling prototype, or CNC milling service, get in touch with X Rapid Technologies and discuss your requirements. You will get free quotes within 24 hours and kick-start your projects soon.