Mathy Machine Inc.

What Are the Basics of CNC Turning and Milling?

CNC milling and turning are essential techniques in modern machining for creating intricate and precise components. They share similarities in their ability to accurately shape raw materials into desired forms. A rotating cutter removes material from a workpiece in CNC milling, while CNC turning utilizes a stationary piece and a cutting tool.

This article will discuss the fundamentals of CNC milling and turning, including their working principles, benefits, and applications.

What Are CNC Milling and CNC Turning?

CNC milling operates by gradually removing material from a workpiece using rotating cutting tools under precise computer control. Milling machines typically offer three linear degrees of freedom, allowing them to move along the X, Y, and Z axes. This three-axis movement can limit operation speed, which makes it well-suited for tasks like prototyping and producing smaller batches of customized parts.

Meanwhile, CNC turning is employed to produce cylindrical and rotational parts. This method involves securing a material bar in a rotating chuck and feeding a cutting tool toward the piece. It will gradually remove the medium until the desired shape is achieved. Turning is often called subtractive machining because it reaches the final form by removing material from the workpiece.

Benefits of CNC Milling

Here are the primary benefits of CNC milling:


Milling machines allow for the creation of parts with incredibly tight tolerances. Computer-controlled movements ensure consistent and accurate cuts, resulting in components that meet exact specifications. This precision is vital in industries where minor deviations from design can lead to product failures.

Speed and Efficiency

CNC milling is known for its efficiency in removing material rapidly. The automated process and the ability to use multiple cutting tools in a single setup reduce production times significantly. This efficiency makes it ideal for prototyping and batch production.

Range of Material Options

CNC milling technology can work with various materials, from metals like aluminum and steel to plastics and composites. This versatility enables manufacturers to select the most suitable one for their application, ensuring that the end product possesses the desired properties.


Aside from offering high precision and efficiency, milling can also be cost-effective in the long run. The automation reduces labor costs once the initial setup is completed. Additionally, the ability to reuse digital designs for multiple parts lowers programming expenses.

Benefits of CNC Turning

On the other hand, the following are four benefits of turning:


The computer-controlled process ensures that dimensions and tolerances are consistently met, resulting in components that precisely match design specifications. This accuracy level is critical in industries where precise parts are essential for functionality and safety.


Turning machines are highly versatile and can produce various products with varying shapes and sizes. They can handle materials like metals, plastics, and composites, making them adaptable to diverse manufacturing needs.


Operators have limited direct contact with cutting tools, minimizing the risk of accidents and injuries. The automation of CNC machines also ensures predictable results. This reduces the chances of errors that might lead to safety hazards or product defects.

Acceleration of Results

The automated nature of turning, along with the ability to create multiple parts in a single setup, results in faster production times. This speedier production is advantageous for meeting tight production deadlines and reducing lead duration.

Applications of CNC Milling and Turning

Here are the industries leveraging CNC milling:

  • Aerospace: turbine blades, housings, wing ribs, and fuselage frames
  • Agriculture: tractor transmission gears, irrigation systems, and harvester parts
  • Automotive: engine blocks, cylinder heads, chassis, and customized rims and hubs
  • Energy: turbine components and parts for solar panel mounting systems
  • Medical: scalpel handles, forceps, orthopedic implants, and dental prosthetics
  • Military: barrels, receivers, armor plating, precision optics, and sighting systems

The following are the sectors that benefit from CNC turning:

  • Automotive: crankshafts, camshafts, gears, axles, and suspension systems
  • Aviation: Aircraft landing gear parts, fasteners, and precision engine mechanisms
  • Consumer goods: kitchen appliances, furniture parts, and high-quality knobs
  • Electronics: smartphone parts and outer shells of a battery-powered portable radio
  • Prototyping: parts and components for product development and testing

Choose Mathy Machine for Superior Machining Services

Since 1975, Mathy Machine has continued to lead the industry in the CNC machining of very tight tolerance, ultra-high complex components! We are based in Santee, California, and have a reputation for quality and reliability.

Contact us today to discuss your project requirements!