What Does CNC Milling Involve?

Cnc Milling

The process of computer numerical control milling, better known as CNC milling, has been a gamechanger when it comes to fabricating finished materials, parts, and products. Especially with metal and items that need extreme accuracy in shape or tolerance, CNC milling has made it possible to produce and reproduce multiple parts to specifications that would otherwise have taken years and lots of mistakes even with expert artisan work.

CNC milling has been applied to multiple material types ranging from plastics to glass to wood to metal. The most common industrial application tends to be metal. However, this choice would be the most labor-intensive choice otherwise and costly if done by hand.

Overview of the CNC Milling Process

Utilizing computer programming, CNC milling exacts a multi-point methodology to remove material from a target. The target material is held in place, usually with a set clamp and table that provides sufficient room for the mill to do its work. The item is either spun or the mill is spun to apply the work. The action and product are exactly, entirely controlled by computer scripts and program lines for what needs to be done. The result is a finished, milled product that is exactly, down to a mathematical measurement. If it can be scripted in the CNC programming, the tool system can produce it on the milling platform.

Precision CNC milling is one of a number of computer-program driven manufacturing processes that a regularly applied today for custom part fabrication. Because it is driven by software, multiple variations and options can be scripted together for new changes and differences. No surprise, CNC milling is used on a regular basis for custom needs, replacing broken specialty parts, creating prototypes, and testing new designs in real-time under physical conditions.

The physical process of milling is the same as it was before computers. The target material is placed on a worktable that allows for its movement. Prior to computers, the artisan would spin around the table or move the table to shape the target. Today, the CNC machine system does the same. The table moves or the cutter’s arms rotate around the target, removing and cutting material to achieve the desired shape. Again, the huge advantage of the CNC system is extreme accuracy below the millimeter level. Add in the speed at which the machine system can work, and production output for custom work is far faster as well.

CNC Milling Machine Operations

CNC milling fabrication starts with the design. This is done with a computer-aided design (CAD) software program. Unlike traditional mechanical drawing, where the designer had to measure everything to scale and then extrapolate that information to measurements for manufacturing, the CAD software does all of the measurements and applies them. As a result, when the design is migrated to CNC instructions, all of the exact dimensions and specs go with it and are adjusted to exactly what is needed via computer algorithms. From that point, the program is then executed by the CNC milling machine, utilizing the necessary tools attached to affect the product drawn.

The benefits of CNC milling are particularly valuable for products that require very specific measurements for performance. That can include accurate shaping down to 0.001 of an inch. In fact, high quality CNC milling systems can go even further. As a result, these systems can produce multiple types of milling work, ranging from face and plain milling to angle work and entire solid piece form milling.

Milling Machine Considerations

Typical CNC milling systems will function with a minimum of three axes and as many as five axes. Some special systems go higher, but they are less common. The machine can approach a target utilizing an XYZ grid, which allows the programming to be applied from three different dimensions during an operation. That regularly produces a side to side and top/down application and the third control being depth. All three combined allow a three-dimensional shaping via milling tools that is absolutely amazing in capacity. And with a 5-axes system, things grow in capability exponentially.

Again, CNC milling continues to be an industry standard among a number of computer-controlled tooling systems that are used for custom fabrication. The advantages of the approach are applicable in multiple industries and would be very hard to replicate with manual production, and nowhere near the speed with which CNC milling can output. So, when your manufacturing process needs high-quality fabrication by an expert process and team, CNC milling is going to be a very viable solution. To understand the process more and how it can be applied to your needs, Evden Enterprises can help. Our specialists provide CNC services to clients in multiple industries.