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What Is CNC Milling, and How Much Does It Cost?


CNC milling is a popular form of CNC technology due to its precision, cost-effectiveness and accuracy. Discover the definition, benefits, and how much CNC milling costs in this complete guide.

The global CNC machine market size was $84 billion in 2021, with predictions it will rise to $128 billion in 2028.

CNC machining has introduced new ways of carving, drilling and shaping materials with specific programmed parameters that automate the process with incredible precision.

From car parts to tools and furniture, CNC technology continues to be the ‘go-to’ solution for precision cutting, saving time and money while significantly lowering the risk of human error. 

Discover how CNC milling machinery works, how much it costs and the many benefits of CNC automated technologies for manufacturing metalworks.

The Benefits of CNC Machining

Like all things concerned with industry and manufacturing, the popularity of CNC automated technologies is ultimately down to the precision and speed at which it works. The various benefits of CNC machining include:

  • Minimal waste
  • Lower production costs
  • Efficient production
  • Zero defects
  • Fast assembly
  • Enhanced safety
  • Energy reduction

With the reduction of human error and precise cutting capabilities, manual alternatives are no match for CNC automated technologies.

Involving CNC metal stamping and punching, the most common types of CNC machining processes include:

  • CNC Milling
  • CNC Turning and Lathes
  • CNC Lasering
  • CNC Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM)
  • CNC Plasma Cutting Machining

CNC technology proves effective and beneficial to multiple industries involved in manufacturing. For these reasons, one of the most popular forms of CNC technology remains CNC milling. 

What is CNC Milling?

CNC milling is an automated machine process that applies computerised controls to produce custom-designed parts or components from metal, plastic, wood and other solid materials.

CNC stands for ‘Computer Numerical Control’, and ‘milling’ is the machining process that consists of rotating a multi-point cutter to drill through and remove excess material, forming the desired design and shape from the workpiece.

Typically, the components produced by a CNC milling machine are square or rectangular shapes but can have many various intricate features. 

The popularity of CNC milling is not only reserved for mass milling techniques in warehouses and other industrial premises. A 2021 survey revealed that 70% of people now do CNC milling as a personal hobby, and 61% make a profit from their creations, such as ornaments, tools and instruments. 

What are the Benefits of CNC Milling?

There are many benefits to CNC milling, such as:

  • The reduction of human error
  • The support of large and heavy machinery
  • Precise cutting with multiple cutting options
  • A wide range of customisation on offer
  • Versatility to handle small or large batch sizes
  • Accurate finishing compared to other automated machines

Despite offering ease and efficiency, CNC milling machines still require trained professional operators to use them. Now considered commonplace in the milling industry, CNC milling manages both small and large batch sizes.

Before investing, remember it’s much more cost-effective for larger batches due to the design and programming involved in the process.

How Does a CNC Milling Machine Work?

CNC milling machines are considered both horizontal and vertical machining centres. The features and functionality of a CNC milling machine involve a cylindrical cutter rotating to advance in varying directions and axes at various cutter head speeds and pressures, creating slots, holes, and other details within the material.

Typically, a CNC milling machine system has three linear degrees that can move around the X, Y and Z axes while the workpiece stays locked in position.

Compared to CNC turning, CNC milling has a more limited dimensional operation and reduced speeds, making it more suitable for smaller production operations and prototyping.

CNC milling is an automated machine process that applies computerised controls to produce custom-designed parts or components from metal, plastic, wood and other solid materials.

What’s the Difference Between CNC Turning and Milling?

CNC milling involves removing parts by a rotating cutter head from a workpiece to produce custom-designed components. In contrast, CNC turning is another manufacturing process that requires holding rotating material bars in a chuck before feeding a tool to remove the material.

So, the difference between the two is with CNC milling, the material stays still while the drill rotates, while CNC turning requires the material to rotate instead not the tool that cuts.

Both processes have their pros and cons. CNC turning works faster but with much less precision while producing more waste than CNC milling.

How Much Does CNC Milling Cost?

In the UK, CNC milling is normally priced by the hour, with an average cost ranging between £40 and £60. The rate for CNC milling depends on the time for manufacturing multiplied by the hourly rate.

When pricing for CNC milling, the manufacturing processes to account for include programming, establishing machine tools, de-burring, and inspection. As with most forms of craftsmanship – “You get what you pay for.”

Despite CNC milling being precision-based, paying less will likely result in worse quality. Whether it’s the level of training of the operator or the quality of material and machine.

Speak to CNC Milling Specialists

Barton International offer superior metal fabrication solutions, including CNC milling. Our experience spans over a century, with over 5 million parts supplied per year, so you can trust our CNC milling manufacturing methods will deliver you precise and reliable parts and components.

If you’re looking for experienced CNC milling manufacturers, whether it’s for a small or large batch of components, contact us today.

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