Computer numerical control (CNC) has been incorporated into a variety of new technologies and machinery. Perhaps the most common type of machine that is used in this realm is known as a CNC mill.
CNC milling is a certain type of CNC machining. Milling is a process that is quite similar to drilling or cutting, and milling can perform these processes for a variety of production needs. Milling utilizes a cylindrical cutting tool that can rotate in various directions. Unlike traditional drilling, a milling cutter can move along multiple axes. It also has the capability to create a wide array of shapes, slots, holes, and other necessary impressions. Plus, the work piece of a CNC mill can be moved across the milling tool in specific directions. A drill is only able to achieve a single axis motion, which limits its overall production capability.
CNC mills are often grouped by the number of axes on which they can operate. Each axis is labeled using a specific letter. For example, the X and Y axes represent the horizontal movement of the mill’s work piece. The Z axis designates vertical movement. The W axis represents the diagonal movement across the vertical plane.
The majority of CNC milling machines offer from 3 to 5 axes. More advanced mills must be programmed with CAM technology to run properly. These advanced CNC machines can produce specific shapes that are basically impossible to produce with any manual tooling techniques. In addition, most CNC mills are equipped with a special device that pumps fluid to the cutting tool during the production process.
Nearly all types of materials that can physically be drilled or cut can be manipulated by CNC mills. However, most CNC mill machines work with metal materials. Much like the processes of drilling and cutting, the appropriate CNC machine tools have to be chosen for each material being used. The density of the material at-hand, along with the rotation of the cutting tool, must be considered prior to starting the milling production process.
In general, CNC mills are very efficient when it comes to prototyping, the short-run production of complex parts, and the fabrication of precision parts and components. But these powerful machines offer a wide range of other benefits, particularly in terms of manipulating most materials in a very efficient manner. Manual mills are still around. However, with the affordability of CNC machining today, it’s without a doubt very wise to use a CNC mill that can literally transform production processes in time, precision, and quality of the materials being made.