Home Industry CNC Machining or CNC Mills- What is your best bet?

CNC Machining or CNC Mills- What is your best bet?

by Clyde

When it comes down to milling machines, there’s always one confusion—milling machines and machining centers. While both types of milling equipment are super-great for machining services, you’d love to know what the difference between them really is, wouldn’t you?

By the time you’re through reading this article, you should already have a solid idea about what each of these tools is, how they function, and how they’re different from each other. Before then, it is worth knowing that CNC simply means Computer Numerical Control. This means that the machine is controlled and regulated by a computer instead of by hand. Let’s get straight into it.

What is a CNC machining center?

Machining centers are most often used in manufacturing companies where metal parts are made. For example, you would find them in automobile companies. They’re heavy-duty equipment that can be used for drilling and grinding big engines. However, they’re most basically used for making dyes for the auto body.

What is a CNC mill?

This one has almost every function as the machining center except that it doesn’t come with an automatic tool changer (ATC), which, in itself, is already a very significant difference. Let’s get a much broader view of both pieces of equipment.

Differences between a CNC machining center and a CNC mill

Below are some of the very obvious differences and some not-very obvious differences between the two equipment.

1. T-code

While there’s a tool magazine in the CNC machining center, there’s none in the CNC mill. This means that T-code will not be needed to manage it.

2. M-06 and M-19

M-06 and M-19 are the tool change and spindle orientation commands respectively in machining services. The M-19 is used to align the keyway on the handle with the end key on the spindle. However, the M-19 is a part of the M-06, which means you wouldn’t have to give a separate instruction for the alignment to take place when using a CNC machining center.

These commands will work differently on a milling machine. The operator does the process manually, by aligning the keyway on the key handle and going on further to align the key end to the spindle.

CNC machining center returns the spindle to the reference point by removing the tool length compensation before tool change. To avoid accidents with this kind of setting, the cleaning position has to be properly selected.

3. G76 and G89

These codes represent a fine boring cycle and a dwell boring cycle respectively. However, they cannot be executed on a CNC mill because it doesn’t have an M-19 instruction. During machining services, the operator would also have to manually allow the CNC tool to leave through the bottom after moving the tool to the opposite direction of the tip.


In machining services and from what we have above, there isn’t so much of a difference between the CNC machining center and the CNC mill. What makes the whole difference is the ATC (automatic tool changer).

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