The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right CNC Milling Machine for Your Business.


As technology advanced, it gave birth to a high-precision computer-controlled manufacturing process known as CNC milling. Because of their speed, accuracy, and ability to keep tight tolerances, CNC milling machines are highly applicable in precision production.

While CNC mills enable the design and fabrication process of components with very complicated geometry, they have permitted tremendous advancements. It’s no surprise that this technique is required to manufacture many things we use daily.

This article intends to educate and keep you informed in choosing the right CNC milling machine for your business by teaching you all you need to know about CNC milling machining: the type, how it works, why you should invest in one, and many more. Read on to learn more.

What Is A CNC Mill?

CNC is an abbreviation for computer numerical control. Thus, a CNC machine or a milling center are computer-controlled pieces of equipment used to precisely cut metal components. These devices are used for commercial and industrial components manufactured from prepared material. Metals, polymers, ceramics, and composites may all be used to make custom-designed parts. CNC milling machines are the systems utilized in CNC milling operations.

Unlike manual milling, which uses manual mills with knee-type milling machines, CNC Milling Machines are machine-operated cutting or milling tools that use computerized controls known as Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems to precisely remove material from a workpiece. The machining process produces a particular component or product using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.

These machine tools typically include a primary spindle and three linear axes for positioning or moving the component to be manufactured. More sophisticated models may feature a 4th or 5th rotational axes to manufacture more exact forms of varied dimensions and sizes.

CNC milling machines may be used to create machine components that are not symmetrical axially. Depending on the specific curvatures or surface contours of a given component, a mix of drilling, tapping, slots, recesses, and other features may be necessary. Milling, in general, is especially suitable as a secondary or finishing process for a workpiece that has already been machined. CNC milling machines are widely used to manufacture complicated components made of diverse materials.

How CNC Milling Machines Work?

The workpiece you want to machine is clamped on top of the machine table in the case of a CNC milling machine or CNC machining center. It might be fastened directly to the table or placed using a vice or fastening.

The spindle (moving part) with the cutting tool is then positioned either vertically or horizontally. The tool may move to different X-Y-Z axis on the workpiece in such a setup and begin cutting and shaping operations.

To get started, secure the workpiece to the CNC milling machine’s worktable and install the cutting tools on the spindle before starting the CNC program. When the machine is ready, the operator begins running the program and the CNC machining milling operation with the machine.

CNC milling machines will rotate the milling cutters with up to thousands of RPM, depending on the type of milling machine and milling parts application, to execute different operations: slowly feed the workpiece into the stationary rotating tool, move the tool across the stationary workpiece, or move both the tool and the workpiece with each other.

A milling cutter on a CNC milling machine may travel along several axes and spin in different directions, realizing many complicated operations to create varied milled components according to the CAD design. Note that complex and sophisticated parts may require multiple machine setups may be required.

Which Machines Are Best For Small Businesses?

There are many types of milling machines used in the CNC space to help with a wide range of cutting and machining operations. Selection of the best machine for a part depends on several factors such as hardness, chemical and temperature resistance, and many more.

CNC mills are often categorized based on the number of axes or spindle directions on which they can operate, which can be vertical, horizontal mills, or universal machines. They include;

  • Horizontal Milling Machines
  • Vertical Milling Machines
  • Multi-axis CNC milling machine

Horizontal Milling Machines

The spindle axis of a horizontal mill or milling machine is horizontally oriented, which means the cutting tools on the spindle will create the desired shape of the materials horizontally or across a horizontal plane. The cutters move while the workpiece remains stationary, allowing the machines to simply cut into the component.

One horizontal milling machine can outperform three vertical milling machines in terms of productivity. The usage of horizontal machines is 85%, but that of a Vertical machine is typically 25%. As a result, it is also appropriate for small businesses. When compared to vertical mills, horizontal machining centers employ superior chip evacuation technologies, resulting in less re-cutting and greater tool life.

Horizontal milling tools are exceptionally strong and constructed to endure vibrations. Investing in a horizontal machine is worthwhile since components are less expensive when they fall into the machine. While it is more costly than the Vertical Milling cutting tool, purchasing a low-cost, fairly used horizontal type and utilizing it just for production is preferable.

Vertical Milling Machines

Vertical mills operate similarly to a horizontal milling machine in that the spindle can only move up and down since the spindle is attached to the vertical axis.

Horizontal machine cutting tools feature better arbor support and a wider cross-sectional area than vertical mill cutting tools, allowing for faster material removal speed, particularly from grooves and slots. 

Horizontal machine cutting tools feature better arbor support and a wider cross-sectional area than vertical mill cutting tools, allowing for faster material removal speed, particularly from grooves and slots.  Also, they are easier to program with greater flexibility, so they are ideal if you have unusual or one-time demands.

Another benefit of a vertical machine you’ll enjoy is that they take up less floor area than horizontal CNC milling equipment. Vertical milling machines are often used for smaller items, whereas horizontal machining centers are used for larger ones.

Vertical mills are smaller in size, enable you to view your milling process while operating, and are less costly, making them ideal for small businesses.

Also, because the tool axis is vertically positioned, it is more suited for end milling using ball nose end mills. Vertical types include bed-type milling machines and many more.

Multi-axis CNC milling machine

CNC milling machines with many axes include 3-axis, 4-axis, 5-axis, and 6-axis. CNC mills with many axes make it possible to do very detailed or sophisticated machine operations. Multi-axis milling machines move along the X, Y, and Z axis and rotate along the A and B axis. This permits the workpiece to be approached from any direction, allowing numerous operations to be performed simultaneously.

A multiple-axis machining center may be appropriate for complex parts or designs that demand high-quality accuracy and substantial flexibility. 5-axis mills have up to 95% spindle usage and may operate unattended overnight and on weekends.

Multi-axis mills or multi-point cutting tools are inexpensive and may save you money on labor while improving output. Multiple axis cutting tools shorten cycle times while increasing the complexity of items that may be produced.

X-axis and Y-axis denote horizontal (side-to-side and forward-and-back) movement on a flat surface, whereas Z-axis symbolizes vertical (up-and-down) movement and W-axis diagonal movement across a vertical plane.

4 Types of Milling Operations

Milling may be used for various characteristics such as threading, chamfering, slotting, etc. This enables the production of complicated patterns with outstanding precision on a single CNC milling center. CNC machining tolerances are typical +/- 0.1 mm.

These properties above need several distinct milling operations:

Face milling

The cutting tool’s axis of rotation for face milling is perpendicular to the workpiece’s surface.

Face milling cutters have teeth on both the periphery and tool face. The latter is used for finishing purposes. Face milling is also used to manage a final object and generate smooth surfaces.

Face milling produces better finishes than other milling methods and is suitable for vertical and horizontal milling equipment.

Plain milling

The cutting tool’s axis of rotation for a plain milling operation, also known as surface milling or slab milling, is parallel to the workpiece’s surface. Plain milling cutters feature teeth around the perimeter that do the cutting. There are both narrow cutters and broad cutters utilized. This enables deeper cuts and working on greater surface areas.

Also, both a coarse and fine-toothed cutter is employed. The coarse-toothed cutter has slow cutting speeds and quick feed rates, whereas the fine-toothed cutter has fast cutting speeds and slow feed rates. This allows for a more detailed final outcome. Plain milling uses a finer-toothed cutter, quicker cutting speeds, and slower feed rates to manufacture the completed part’s details.

Angular milling

This is a CNC milling process in which the cutting tool’s axis of rotation is at an angle relative to the workpiece’s surface. As a result, single-angled milling cutters may create more angular features such as grooves, serrations, and chamfers.

Form milling

Form milling is ideally suited for the CNC process involving more uneven surfaces such as outlines, contours, edges, sections with flat surfaces, or curved surfaces. It used milling cutters or fly cutters designed for specific tasks, such as concave cutters or corner rounding cutters. Also, gang milling is a kind of form milling in which many cutters are used to make patterns at the same time.

Form milling is useful for hemispherical or semicircular patterns and other sophisticated designs with complex parts or elements.

Note: Other forms of milling not mentioned above include straddle milling, profile milling, gear cutting, and many more.

Why Should You Invest In One?

Perhaps you are considering starting a series production or contract manufacturing and purchasing a CNC milling machine. Of course, the issue now is whether to get such a CNC machine to machine parts from varieties of materials.

It should be carefully studied since most CNC milling machines are expensive investments. This requires a firm understanding of what critical benefits the CNC milling machine should have. Regardless of which one you finally pick, depending on your demands, investing in a CNC milling machine will provide you with the following benefits:

  • Cost Savings
  • Increased Accuracy and Repeatability
  • Increased Productivity
  • Increased Safety
  • Increased Versatility and Flexibility

How Much Do They Cost?

While there are many forms of milling machines on the market, the cost of CNC milling machines may be determined on the manufacturer’s website. Furthermore, most merchants do not disclose their prices online.

You will only discover the precise cost after many emails and phone conversations with the sales staff. This is because large-ticket purchases, such as industrial CNC Mills, have a lot of wiggle space.

Another reason is that the cost of CNC mills is determined by various parameters. For example, CNC machines designed for wood are substantially less expensive than CNC machines designed for ferrous metals (Tool steel, Stainless Steel). This is because wood is considerably simpler to mill than ferrous metals. Furthermore, the tolerance on metal is often substantially tighter, leaving less space for mistakes.

Interestingly, for $30,000, you can obtain an absolute CNC mill for woodworking. Still, you can barely acquire an entry-level industrial mill for milling steel.


CNC milling tools are created and developed to function with the greatest levels of precision on the workpiece. Because the movement is controlled by a computer program, every single component is created with the same degree of precision. On a larger scale, components may be manufactured in large quantities with the assurance that all final parts will be of the same quality and finish. Thanks to computer-aided manufacturing.

Thank you for reading up to this point. Worthyharware will love to speak with you about CNC milling to help you achieve your short and long-term goals regarding your project. Give us a call or stop by our website.

Worthy Hardware is a CNC manufacturing and sheet metal fabrication company,including CNC machining services,CNC milling services, CNC turning services, laser cutting services and stamping services.Call us +86-76989919645 or email us [email protected] for more discounts for your projects.