There are several different machining processes that manufacturing companies use to create products out of raw or semi-formed materials - the two most common is turning and milling. With turning and milling, a machine is used to remove material from a workpiece which changes the size and shape. So, what is the difference between turning and milling exactly?
What is turning?
The turning process uses a lathe and removes material from a rotating workpiece with a cutting tool. With turning it is the workpiece that moves while the cutting tool remains stationary.
Like most machining operations, turning can be done manually or automatically. When turning is down manually it needs constant supervision while automatic turning doesn’t.
CNC machining allows you to program the movements, speeds, and tooling changes into a computer. These changes get sent to the lathe for completion. This CNC process means there is greater consistency and efficiency of high production runs.
There are many advantages of turning including the increased precision of manufactured parts, being cost efficient and reduced waste.
What is milling?
Milling is a process where a machine removes materials from a stationary workpiece using a rotating cutting tool. The principal of the milling process is like turning in that a cutting tool will press against the workpiece removing material from it.
While there is a similarity the main difference between the two machining techniques is all to do with their rotation. In turning the workpiece rotates which in milling it is the cutting tool that rotates.
Face and peripheral are the two main classifications of milling operations. Face milling is characterised by a cutting action at or near the corners of the cutting tool. In comparison, peripherals milling is characterised by a cutting action along the diameter of the cutting tool.
It doesn’t matter if it is face or peripheral, the milling process involves the rotation of the workpiece, meaning the cutting tool doesn’t rotate and will always remain stationery.
In the machining industry both turning and milling are commonly used processes and while there are some similarities, they do use different methods to achieve their finished product.
The simple way to distinguish between the two is that turning forces the workpiece to rotate while milling forces the cutting too to rotate. Despite the different mechanics, they both offer advantages when used in the manufacturing industry.