What is CNC Turning skill competition all about? And how it differs from CNC Milling.


CNC turning is another example of Computer Numeric Control or CNC technology. On the surface, it could seem like CNC milling but both are very different skills and technologies.

In this article:

  • What is CNC turning?
  • Differences between CNC turning and CNC milling?
  • Why is CNC turning an important skill?

What is CNC turning?

CNC turning is a process of manufacturing products using tools controlled by CNC technology. In CNC turning a workpiece is secured to a part of the CNC turning machine. The part of the machine then rotates and a feeding tool is used to remove the material from the workpiece.

The removal of material continues till the desired shape is acquired. Since the desired shape is acquired through the removal of material it is also known as subtraction machining.

Some operations that are done using a CNC turning lathe are Boring, Drilling, Facing, Grooving, Knurling, and Parting. CNC turning is used in a range of industries including Woodworking, the Electrical industry, Electrical discharge machining(EDM), Material fabrication, automobile, etc.

Most CNC turning operations can be done with just one rotating side, but to increase the speed of operation some machines come with two spindles. There is a main spindle and a sub-spindle the main spindle completes the work partially. Then the sub-spindle is used to finish up the operation.

Using two spindles greatly increases the speed of the operations. Due to the speed of operations CNC turning is ideal for huge productions with a very limited lead time.


Differences between CNC turning and CNC milling?

CNC turning and CNC milling kind of seem similar on the surface but are very different in operations done using them, or production capabilities. However, both CNC turning and CNC milling are similar when it comes to the industries they are used in.

Some common differences other than operations, or production capabilities are that CNC turning often produces parts faster and much more affordable than CNC milling. CNC turning is not as good at preserving material as CNC milling. But CNC turning is capable of producing much more complex designs than CNC milling.

  • Operational differences: CNC milling is used to perform operations such as Slot milling, Vertical milling, Horizontal milling, Side milling, Gang milling, up and down milling, etc. CNC turning is used to perform operations such as Turning, Facing, boring, drilling, Knurling, chamfering, grooving, etc.


Why is CNC turning an important skill?

CNC machining as a whole is a rather important skill or technology. Because CNC machining has the capability of producing incredibly complex parts. Plus the overall precision of the CNC machining is also very impressive.

Now CNC turning specifically, CNC turning is done using a machine called a CNC lathe. Some people believe that the CNC lathe is only capable of producing circular parts. But in reality, the CNC lathe is capable of producing almost any shape. The precision of a CNC Lathe is 10 microns which is 6 to 10 times thinner than a human hair.

CNC lathes do cost a lot because they can do remarkable things, at remarkable speed. It is ideal to use a CNC lathe when high precision is needed, with a large production, and limited time. CNC lathe has supportive tools, holding tools, cutting tools, the computer used to control it, etc.

The CNC lathe is capable of cutting a range of materials including Bronze, plastic, soft steel, Hard steel, aluminum, wood, and, so on.

To use such a remarkable tool a remarkably skilled person is needed. CNC turning machinist needs to be able to interpret engineering drawings and convert them into machine code with the help of different software. The code is then fed into the computer embedded in the CNC lathe.

The computer then uses the code to tell the tool how to cut the workpiece. The machinist also has to carefully observe the workpiece so the dimension requirements are properly met.

And some adjustments are also needed depending on the material of the workpiece to avoid damage due to vibrations and temperature differences.

The skill competition in CNC turning is going to be in Leonberg, Germany but the dates can vary so here is the link to the schedule page. Here is the link if you wanna know more about the CNC turning skill competition

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