Difference Between CNC Milling And CNC Turning

Difference Between CNC Milling And CNC Turning

There are a wide variety of CNC machining services, with different CNC machines for different needs. In this article, we will discuss the differences between two popular CNC technologies: CNC milling and CNC turning.

With CNC machining, the material to be machined can be quickly turned into the desired metal or plastic part. Many businesses require CNC machining services to create samples and parts, and many fields utilize CNC machining techniques.

However, there are different types of CNC machining. All CNC machining techniques use software to translate digital plans into machine instructions that tell the CNC machine how to cut the material. However, the hardware used to cut material varies greatly from CNC machine to CNC machine.

In this article, we will cover the main difference between CNC milling and CNC turning. We’ll also discuss the main benefits of each technique, as well as some common parts that companies can manufacture using each method.

Table of Contents

CNC Milling and CNC Turning Main Differences

CNC milling and CNC turning are the two main techniques in CNC machining. It uses rotary cutting tools to machine stationary workpieces. It is good for shaping complex shapes like flat, curved surfaces, and 3D structures. It is commonly used to manufacture complex parts, molds, and dies, and for multi-axis machining. CNC turning uses a rotating workpiece with a cutting tool. The tool moves on a fixed axis. It is better for cylindrical or conical parts. CNC turning is often used for machining shafts, tubes, and other axisymmetric parts.

In terms of accuracy, CNC milling offers high precision and accuracy. It is particularly well suited for machining parts with complex geometries, while CNC turning provides greater accuracy on cylindrical and tapered parts. In terms of speed, CNC turning is faster. It is simpler. CNC milling can take longer, especially for complex parts and multi-axis operations. Both have important applications in manufacturing and rapid prototyping. The choice of method depends on the accuracy, speed, type of part required, and specific machining needs. For more information, please contact Yonglihao Machinery for expert advice.

What is CNC Milling?

CNC milling is a very popular type of CNC machining that can be used to create many different CNC machined parts. Many times, prototype companies use CNC milling machines to create unique samples.

A CNC milling machine moves a cutting tool quickly in three or more directions with the help of computerized commands. When the moving cutting tool comes into contact with the workpiece being machined, it carefully cuts away the material. The cutting tool moves back and forth across the surface of the workpiece until it is cut into the desired part.

In most CNC milling machines, the workpiece is stationary because there is a clamp holding it to the machine bed. Multi-axis CNC milling machines, on the other hand, can rock or rotate the workpiece to get more cutting angles. This allows manufacturers to create more complex parts without having to manually flip the workpiece.

Rapid prototyping service providers use CNC milling because it’s an easy one-stop-shop method to get everything done quickly.

CNC Milling-

What is CNC Turning?

CNC turning is a common form of CNC machining that can be used to create round, cylindrical, or conical parts. It is one of the best-known CNC machining and rapid prototyping services, although it can’t do as much as CNC milling.

CNC lathes and CNC turning centers are mechanical devices that perform CNC turning. Their cutting tools don’t rotate like a CNC milling machine, but instead rotate the workpiece being machined quickly in a chuck. The cutting tool is mounted on a turret and moves toward the rotating object according to computer commands and cuts the material as needed.

CNC lathes can make tubular CNC machined parts. This is assumed that the CNC lathe can both cut the outside of the part and drill holes inside the part.

There may be multiple cutting tools on the machine turret, each of which can be used as needed.

CNC Turning-difference between cnc milling and turning

Benefits of CNC Turning

Manufacturers and prototype companies can benefit greatly from CNC milling machines. Milling machines, on the other hand, are more flexible and versatile machines that can machine many different shapes. There are many types of cutting tools available for different machining tasks, such as roughing and milling.

Even though CNC milling machines are tools used to make things, they can also be used for post-processing. One way to do this is to add detail to turned, molded, or 3D-printed parts.

CNC milling is fast and can be done over and over again, and the cost of a small amount of cutting and machining is not prohibitive. As a result, it can be found in services that make items and services that make rapid prototypes.

Benefits of CNC Turning

The biggest advantage of CNC turning is that it can create round shapes. Other types of CNC cutting, such as CNC milling and CNC routing, make it difficult to get a perfectly round shape.

In addition, CNC turning is very accurate, which makes it a useful tool for machining holes with precise dimensions within a certain range.

You can use both CNC routing and CNC turning to get the most out of both. CNC turning is usually the first step. This allows the machinist to add more detail to the part through milling.

CNC Milling Parts

Parts that can be machined with CNC milling include:

  • Fittings: Milled fittings join two or more parts together.
  • Covers and housings: Custom-milled housings protect the inside of appliances and other items.
  • Plates and brackets: Milled brackets can be more complex than sheet metal brackets because they may have specialized holes and threads.
  • Gears: CNC milling can create mechanisms with spur and helical gears.
  • Molding tools: Milling molds, which can be made of steel or metal, allow you to quickly create prototypes of molded parts.
  • Engine parts: Automotive specialists use CNC milling to make engine blocks and other parts.
  • Medical devices: CNC milling machines make implants, surgical tools, and other medical devices.
  • Water Pumps: Multi-axis milling machines create impellers for hydraulic equipment that work well.
  • Forming Punches: CNC milling machines also make other manufacturing tools, such as forming punches used to make sheet metal.

CNC Turning Parts

Some of the parts that can be manufactured with CNC turning include:

  • Rollers: For industrial use, CNC lathes can make rollers with very tight tolerances.
  • Ball joints: CNC lathes are the best way to make smooth joint parts such as ball joints.
  • Bolts and nuts: Due to the very high accuracy of turning, it can be used to manufacture parts such as nuts and bolts that need to be within a certain range.
  • Shafts: CNC turning is best suited for machining round shafts.
  • Pipes: CNC-turned joints make pipes and beams stronger.
  • Nozzles: Nozzles are usually round or tapered with an inner opening, making them suitable for CNC turning.
  • Turbines: CNC turning can produce round turbine blades for the energy industry.

Selection Guide: CNC Milling or CNC Turning?

The choice is between CNC milling and CNC turning. It depends on many factors. These include the part’s shape, needed accuracy, the material, and the budget.

Part Shape: CNC milling is for complex shapes, like flat or curved surfaces and multi-axis structures. CNC turning is for cylindrical, tapered, or symmetrical parts.

Accuracy Requirements: CNC turning may be more appropriate if high accuracy is required, especially for cylindrical parts. For complex parts, CNC milling can provide multi-axis operation and high accuracy.

Materials: Certain materials may be better suited to one type of machining. For example, hard materials may be more challenging to CNC mill, while CNC turning is better suited for softer materials.

Related reading: Choosing the Right Materials for CNC Machining Project

Budget: CNC turning is usually cheaper. This is due to the relative simplicity of the operation. In contrast, CNC milling can be more complex and costly to set up.

The choice between CNC milling or CNC turning depends on specific needs. For best results, consider the part’s shape, accuracy needs, material, and budget. Use a mix of these factors to maximize machining efficiency and quality.


Generally speaking, CNC milling is better suited for all other shapes, while CNC turning is better suited for round, cylindrical, or conical parts. If you’re not sure which CNC machining service is best for your job, contact us, and Yonglihao Machinery can tailor the service to your needs.

That said, CNC milling and CNC turning can work well together. CNC milling can be performed after CNC turning if the part is mostly round, but needs to be notched or has uneven features. Although it is not common, CNC turning can also be performed after CNC milling if a square or irregularly shaped part needs a large hole drilled in the center.


CNC milling often needs complex setups and multi-axis operations. So, its cost is higher than CNC turning. In terms of setup time, CNC milling can take longer because of more complex alignments and multiple tool changes. In contrast, CNC turning has shorter setup times. This is for situations that need quick adjustments.

CNC milling typically needs multi-axis operation. So, it needs more complex gear. This is especially true for 5-axis milling machines, which are for making complex parts. CNC turning gear is simpler. It mainly involves rotating the workpiece and fixing the cutting tools. But, more complex machining can use extra tools. In addition, CNC milling usually requires more cutting tools, whereas CNC turning uses mainly single-point cutting tools.

CNC milling may need more maintenance. This is due to the complexity of the equipment, especially in multi-axis operations. Maintenance includes regular inspections of cutting tools, bearings, and drivelines. CNC turning is simple, but it requires attention to safety. The work area must meet safety standards. Since CNC turning involves high-speed rotating workpieces, safety precautions are very important.

CNC milling is good for complex shapes and when you need multiple axes. It is also good for asymmetric parts. In contrast, CNC turning is good for cylindrical, tapered, and axisymmetric parts. It is the best choice for high-volume production and quick setups.

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