The key differences between CNC milling machines and lathes

Despite the fact that both are machine tools that are dedicated to the removal of material from the workpiece in the form of chips or swarf and that both are operated by a Computerized Numerical Control (CNC), there are many differences between lathes and milling machines for your machining operations.

Are you interested in finding out which best suits your company´s needs?

Differences between CNC lathes and milling machines

Three differences between lathes and milling machines

Here are the main differences between a milling machine and a lathe: 

  • Cutting of the workpiece: this is the key difference, given that the milling machine uses a rotating multi-bladed or multi-pointed cutting tool to remove material from the workpiece while with the lathe, it is the workpiece that rotates on a chuck and the stationary cutting tool generally has a single blade. 
  • Number of axes: While CNC milling machines operate on 3 axes (X-Y-Z) and even up to 4 or 5 axes, lathes move along the X-Y axes, for radial machining by rotating the workpiece. 
  • Material and type of workpiece: milling machines and lathes can work with many different types of materials. However, while lathes can only shape cylindrical parts, a milling machine can work parts of all shapes and sizes, making them more versatile and serving for many more applications.

Do you need a lathe or a milling machine?

If your machining is based on the continuous production of cylindrical parts, then a lathe is the most suitable and optimised solution, offering you a higher performance and efficiency than what you would achieve with a milling machine. Therefore, a lathe is ideal for turning, facing, drilling, cutting, forming and knurling.

Should you require a CNC machine to drill, cut, shape, level and round edges, then the milling machine will provide optimal efficiency, with the maximum versatility in the choice of material to be machined.

If your machining process requires a used CNC milling machine, offering the quality and efficiency of a new one, then our range of completely retrofitted milling machines may be the solution that you´re looking for. Our technical experts will help you find the best machining solution for your company and will advise you with regard to how to get the best performance from your CNC machine.