An Overview of the CNC Milling Process

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Like most of the more conventiaonal mechanical CNC machining processes, the CNC milling process makes use of computerrised controls in order to manipulate and operate machine tolls which shape and cut stock material. With this, the process also follows the same basic production stages which all types of CNC machining processes do, this includes:

  • Converting your CAD model into a CNC program

  • The designing of a CAD model

  • Executing the milling operating

  • Setting up of the CNC milling machine

The CNC milling process starts with the creation of a 2D or a 3D CAD part design. Thereafter, the design is exported to a CNC-compatible file format and then converted by CAM software into the CNC machine program, which will dictate the movements of the tooling across the work piece and the actions of the machine. Before running the CNC program, the CNC milling machine is prepared, by affixing the work piece to the CNC machine’s work surface, and ensuring the milling tools are attached to the machine spindle.  

Depending on the requirements and specifications of the milling application,, the CNC milling process will employ vertical or horizontal CNC-enabled milling machines. Once your machine is ready, the operator launches the program through the machine interface, which prompts the machine to execute the milling operation.

The machine will begin to rotate the cutting tool at speeds that reach up to thousands of RPM once the CNC milling process is initiated. Depending on the requirements of the milling application and which type of milling machine you choose to use, as the tool starts to cut into the work piece, the machine performs one of the following actions in order to produce the cuts that are needed on the work piece:

  • Slowly feeding the work piece into the stationary, rotating tool

  • Moving the tool across the stationary work piece

  • Moving both the work piece and the tool in relation to each other

Different from manual milling processes, when it comes to CNC milling, usually the machine feeds moveable work pieces with the rotation of the cutting tools instead of against it. Climb milling processes are known as these processes where milling operations abide by this type of convention, while the more contrary operations are known as conventional milling processes.