The original category of machine tools for milling was simply referred to as “the mill.” Since the advent of computer numerical control (CNC); however, milling machines have taken a new course, evolving into full machining centers. The most common CNC machines are milling machines, lathes, and grinders. Milling machines automatically cut materials like metal, using a moving spindle, programmed by computer instructions. Lathes use automated tools that spin to shape material. They’re commonly used to make very detailed cuts in symmetrical pieces, like cones and cylinders. Now, many machine shops are classified as vertical machining centers (VMCs) and horizontal machining centers (HMCs), and are equipped with milling machines, automatic tool changers, tool magazines, CNC control, coolant systems, and enclosures.

CNC milling, the most common form of computer numerical control (CNC) machining, performs the functions of both drilling and turning machines. CNC mills are categorized according to their number of axis and are traditionally programmed using a set of codes that represent specific functions.

When CNC machines are combined with conical tools or ball nose cutters, it provides an efficient alternative to flat-surface hand-engraving work.

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