Differences between Milling and Turning in Aerospace Manufacturing
Aerospace manufacturing requires companies experienced in a wide range of fabrication processes to produce the high-precision parts the industry demands. Of these, machining is perhaps one of the most common, as it allows for complex shapes to be produced rapidly and consistently when done properly. As there are many ways to fabricate aerospace components, there are also many ways to machine them. And, with the frequently high costs of materials and labor involved in aerospace manufacturing, it’s important that aerospace machinists know the most efficient process to create a component with minimal defects.
For aerospace manufacturing, the two main processes utilized are turning and milling, performed on a lathe and milling center, respectively. In traditional vertical milling, work pieces are mounted on a table which moves on the x-axis and y-axis, while a rotating cutting tool moves in the z-axis to remove material. In tuning, the work piece is mounted in a spindle, which is rotated as a fixed cutting tool is moved along the x-, y- and z- axis to remove material in the desired locations and depth. Lathe turning is a precise process as the workpiece can be held more steadily and metal chips form more easily. However, all forms must be made on-center and it can be difficult to produce angular shapes. Alternatively, milling requires more attention to detail in set up and often more supervision from machinists, but can produce more complex forms than turning in many cases.
In addition to these basic, 3-axis lathes and milling centers, aerospace manufacturing often needs machines capable of greater precision. Many lathes and mills now have multi-access machining capabilities, allowing tools to be repositioned more precisely and produce a wider variety of cuts. This makes it possible to produce a wide range of complex aerospace products more quickly, as workpieces may be created with minimal operator adjustments and possibly on fewer machines.
At Intrex Aerospace, we have a wide range of aerospace manufacturing equipment, including a variety of milling centers and lathes. We have lathes with up to 5-axis capabilities, milling centers with up to 4-axis capabilities, and CNC Swiss lathes with 9-axis capabilities. Our more than 30 years of experience in the aerospace manufacturing industry and ability to deliver precision components on-time makes us the ideal contract manufacturer for any aerospace parts program.