An Introduction to CNC Turn Mill Machine

Posted on Jan 16, 2021

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CNC Turn Mill Machine

CNC turn mill machine, or mill turn machine, is a multitask CNC machine that can perform high-performance turning and milling operations simultaneously on the main and the sub-spindle.

What Is a CNC Turn Mill Machine?

CNC turn mill machine, or mill turn machine, is a multitask CNC machine that can perform high-performance turning and milling operations simultaneously on the main and the sub-spindle. The hybrid modern machine tool is powered by a computer numerical control system, combining both features and advantages of CNC milling and turning machines. The rotation of the cutting tools in milling machines, as well as the rotation of workpiece in turning operations, are all available in this CNC turn mill machine. The complex and rapid machining operations in the CNC turn mill machine are flexible, powerful, efficient and provide even more ideal accuracy than conventional machining technologies.

CNC turning and CNC milling is both classic machining technologies that are popular with high precision and flexibility. Their main difference lies in the rotating movements in the machining center, one rotates the milling cutters or other cutting tools to remove the materials from the parts’ surfaces while the other spins the workpiece to add the feature on the profiles. However, in CNC turn mill machines, in addition to the main spindle, there are sub spindles employed to finish the machining production, which can alter to both horizontal and vertical planes. This means CNC turn mill machines can achieve up to 4 machining operations at one time while conventional machining centers can only perform a single function. 

Since turn mill machines are still new to the market, they might be less common in the industries compared to turning and milling machines. The arrangement provides more and more industrial manufacturers an economical solution to benefit from the multitasking, single setup metalworking technology where the line between turning and milling is blurred through the 5-axis multitasking machining.


How Does CNC Turn Mill Machine Work?

The CNC turn mill machine is the advanced version that is upgraded from a lathe design, completing turning, milling, boring, facing, drilling, and more goals under the control of CNC. The B-axis, which is the rotational direction in a CNC turn mill machine that typically employs the milling head, can perform high-performance machining from different angles both on the side and the end of the workpiece. 

The workpieces are firmly held in the main or sub spindles. The B-axis and multiple spindles achieve the goal of 5-axis simultaneous capability, handling prismatic metal parts like bar stocks, castings, forgings, billets, and other complex components. Many turn mill machines can also be used for gear cutting, skiving, and repairing jobs or creating small features for heavy parts. These works mentioned here typically require additional manufacturing laser cladding elements.

CNC, which stands for computer numerical control, can communicate with the CNC turn mill machine via programmed instructions. The technology uses Computer-Aided Design software (CAD software) to transmit a series of fully programmed signals. A CNC power system reduces the cost and time of human supervision, achieving more reliable, precise, efficient processes. 

:: Read more: What Makes Turn Mill Machines Viable?


Difference Between CNC Turning and Milling

Both CNC turning center and milling machine perform high-performance metalwork through rotation to shave the materials and apply different tooling options onto the surfaces. Turning and milling operations both create metal chips when shaving away the materials. As a result, the characteristics of the machined materials like aluminum, steel, copper, and the chips that will be created in the CNC turn mill machine are important for the operators to identify.

CNC turn mill machine combines the machining operations of turning and milling machines. Following are the differences and features of the two, which makes the CNC turn mill machine a unique, powerful, utmost efficient multitasking machine tool. In CNC turning, the machining center spins the workpiece which is gripped by the chuck or headstock and guided by the spindle at commanded speed. At the same time, the cutting tool stays stationary in the turning center, applying stable forces onto the materials. Later, the work can also be moved from the main spindle to the sub-spindle in order to finish or add some extra features, such as hole drilling, slight milling, and more. However, the milling cutters in CNC milling machines spin against the workpieces which are clamped firmly at the same place. These milling cutters are driven by the spindle at a high operational rate, which has up to 150 surfaces to perform the high precision cutting.

CNC turning centers mainly work with round bar stock, but milling machines more widely use square or rectangular stocks and are very suitable for handling flat and sculptured surfaces. To compare the two, the turning operation is faster and more flexible to handle different shapes, materials as well as sizes of the parts.

:: Read more: A CNC Turn Mill Lathe Makes Turning Possible in Every Angle!


Advantages of CNC Turn Mill Machine

Combining the functions of turning and milling technology, the CNC turn mill machine obtains various benefits:


● Complex Parts Machining:

Without the need to transfer the workpiece from one machine tool to another, the CNC turn mill machine is capable of producing much more complex and high precision work.


● Rapid Operations:

Since CNC turn mill machines can perform 4 functions at one time, the production cycle time is significantly reduced. On top of that, the setup of 5-axis simultaneous machining in this CNC machine is also simple and quick, removing the need to adjust when altering to different operations. The loading tasks, probing, and removing is also available to be done automatically, saving time effectively.


● Great Accuracy:

With one setup, there is less margin for error in a CNC turn mill machine compared to the process which requires more adjustment or multiple times of setup. The high precision machining and little need for adjustments provide the CNC machine operations with tighter tolerance.


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