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Comparison Of End Milling And Peripheral Milling On CNC Lathes

In the realm of machining processes, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technology has revolutionized manufacturing by offering precise and efficient machining capabilities. CNC lathes are well-known for their ability to perform turning operations, but there is often confusion when it comes to comparing end milling and peripheral milling with CNC lathes. This article aims to shed light on the distinct characteristics, advantages, and applications of each method. We will explore how these two milling techniques differ from turning operations and analyze their contributions to modern CNC machining processes.

An Overview of CNC Lathes:

Before delving into the comparison, let’s briefly explore the fundamentals of CNC lathes. CNC lathes are automated machine tools primarily used for turning operations.

The workpiece rotates while the cutting tool, controlled by computer software, removes material from the workpiece’s surface. This rotational motion facilitates the creation of cylindrical shapes and is ideal for producing components such as shafts, bolts, and bushings.

End Milling: Understanding the Process and Applications

  • End Milling Process: End milling is a milling operation where a cutting tool, called an end mill, possesses cutting edges on both the face and the circumference. Unlike CNC lathes, end cnc milling is characterized by the lateral movement of the end mill, perpendicular to the workpiece’s surface. This lateral motion allows for the creation of slots, pockets, and complex three-dimensional shapes.
  • Advantages of End Milling: End milling offers several advantages that make it a preferred choice in specific machining scenarios:a. Versatility: End mills come in various sizes and shapes, enabling precise and versatile machining operations. This adaptability is crucial when manufacturing intricate components.b. Side Milling: End milling excels in side milling, enabling the machining of features on the sides of a workpiece, which is not achievable through turning operations on CNC lathes.c. Complex Shape Creation: The lateral movement of end mills allows for the fabrication of complex shapes and contours, which is particularly valuable in industries like aerospace and automotive manufacturing.
  • Applications of End Milling: End milling finds applications in various industries, including but not limited to:a. Die and Mold Manufacturing: End mills are extensively used for machining dies and molds, which often require intricate shapes and fine details.b. 3D Contouring: End milling is ideal for 3D contouring, which is essential in industries dealing with complex geometries like medical implant manufacturing.c. Slotting and Pocketing: The end milling process is effective for creating slots and pockets in workpieces, such as in the production of printed circuit boards.

Peripheral Milling: Understanding the Process and Applications

  • Peripheral Milling Process: Peripheral milling, unlike end milling, is a milling operation where the cutting tool has multiple cutting edges on its circumference. The tool’s rotation is parallel to the workpiece surface, allowing for the removal of material from the workpiece’s face.
  • Advantages of Peripheral Milling: Peripheral milling offers several advantages that cater to specific machining requirements:a. Face Milling: Peripheral milling excels in face milling, where a large flat surface needs to be machined accurately and efficiently.b. Material Removal Rates: Peripheral milling can achieve high material removal rates, making it suitable for bulk material removal and reducing cycle times.c. Stable Cutting Conditions: In down milling (climb milling), the cutting forces tend to press the workpiece against the table, providing more stability during cutting.
  • Applications of Peripheral Milling: Peripheral milling is widely used in diverse industries for applications such as:a. Surface Finishing: Peripheral milling is employed to achieve precise surface finishes on components that require a high level of smoothness and accuracy.b. Contour Milling: In some cases, peripheral milling can be used for contour milling, where the tool path follows the workpiece’s contour to create specific shapes.c. Pocket Milling: When pockets need to be machined on large surfaces, peripheral milling can be a suitable choice to optimize material removal.

Key Differences Between End Milling and Peripheral Milling:

While both end milling and peripheral milling are milling operations, they differ significantly from turning operations on CNC lathes. The primary distinctions between the two milling processes are as follows:

  • Cutting Direction: End milling involves lateral cutting across the workpiece surface, while peripheral milling involves cutting along the workpiece’s face.
  • Tool Selection: End mills are used for end milling, whereas various types of milling cutters, like face mills and shell mills, are employed for peripheral milling.
  • Chip Formation: End milling typically generates smaller chips, whereas peripheral milling can produce longer chips due to the cutting direction.
  • Machine Setup and Fixture: CNC lathes are designed for turning operations, while CNC milling machines are equipped for end milling and peripheral milling. The machine setup and fixture requirements differ for each process.

Selecting the Appropriate Machining Process:

The selection of end milling, peripheral milling, or turning on a CNC lathe depends on several factors, including:

  • Workpiece Geometry: Complex shapes and features may require end milling or peripheral milling to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Material Type: Different materials may respond better to either end milling or peripheral milling due to their cutting characteristics and hardness.
  • Tolerances and Surface Finish Requirements: Specific machining processes may be chosen to meet tight tolerances or attain superior surface finishes.
  • Tool Life and Cost Considerations: The choice of machining process can impact tool life and overall machining costs.


In conclusion, end milling and peripheral milling are essential milling operations in the realm of CNC machining. While CNC lathes excel at turning operations, CNC milling machines accommodate end milling and peripheral milling, each offering unique advantages and applications. Understanding the key differences between these processes enables manufacturers to optimize their machining operations and choose the most suitable method for a given workpiece.

The ability to create intricate shapes with end milling and achieve high material removal rates with peripheral milling expands the possibilities of modern manufacturing, catering to the diverse needs of industries worldwide. As CNC technology continues to advance, end milling and peripheral milling will remain vital components in the ever-evolving landscape of precision machining.

  • During end milling of CNC lathes, there are more cutter teeth working at the same time, the fluctuation of milling force is small, and the work is relatively stable; during circumferential milling + there are fewer cutter teeth working at the same time, the milling force fluctuates greatly, and the work is not stable enough. In order to make up for this shortcoming, cylindrical milling cutters can generally be made into larger helix angles.
  • When CNC lathe is used for end milling, the main and auxiliary cutting edges on the cutter teeth work at the same time, the main edge cuts most of the allowance, and the auxiliary edge plays the role of trimming the machined surface. Therefore, the cutting load distribution is reasonable, the durability of the milling cutter is high, and the roughness of the machined surface is also small. When the milling cutter performs circumferential milling, only the main edge on the circumference works. After cutting off most of the allowance, the residual area of ​​the machined surface cannot be eliminated; at the same time, the radial runout of the milling cutter will also reflect on the surface of the workpiece, thus affecting the machining. surface roughness. If the geometric accuracy of the tool is not good, it will also affect the flatness of the machined surface.
  • Generally, CNC lathe end mills have good clamping rigidity and small cutting vibration, while cylindrical milling cutters have a long shaft and a small circumference, which is easy to bend and deform and cause vibration.
  • CNC lathe end mills are easy to insert carbide inserts for high-speed milling, with high production efficiency and good processing quality, while it is difficult to popularize carbide on cylindrical milling cutters.

~ To sum up, in general, the production efficiency and processing quality of end milling are higher than that of peripheral milling, so when milling the plane, end milling should be used as much as possible. Because the use of circumferential milling on the horizontal milling machine is convenient for multi-tool combined milling, which is conducive to improving production efficiency, and the use of large helix angle milling cutters has better results in milling difficult-to-machine materials. Therefore, in actual production, the circumferential milling method is used. still widely used.

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  • CNC machining can create very similar parts to series parts. It is often more efficient and faster than other rapid prototyping technologies for the manufacture of a quantity of prototypes between 1 and 10 parts . We also recommend CNC machining for parts with large sizes (greater than 600 mm).

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