Types of CNC Milling Machines

CNC Milling Machines Make Producing Custom-Designed Parts More Efficient

When it comes to modern production methods, CNC milling machines make producing custom-designed parts or components much more efficient. In the old days, workers had to use specialized tools to create pieces by hand or use highly specific machinery to perform one task during the production process.

Now, technology enables companies of all sizes to make complex parts and equipment with the same machine. This article will look at the different types of CNC machines and why they’re so valuable in today’s manufacturing process.

What are CNC Milling Machines?

CNC stands for computer numerical control, and milling is the process of removing or drilling materials (e.g., metal). A CNC milling machine is a device that shapes and adjusts pieces based on computer commands. These devices use specific software to translate computer code into a finished product.

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Types of CNC Milling Machines

A big reason why CNC milling machines are valued in today’s manufacturing age is that they can move on different axes. This feature allows workshops to achieve more complicated designs at faster processing speeds, and with fewer operations.

There are three primary types of CNC milling machines:


This option is the most cost-effective and widespread. Vertical milling machines have the tool running up and down. In this case, the device moves on three axes – X, Y, and Z. Usually, the table is what moves, not necessarily the head. This type of CNC milling machine is often much simpler to program, while still offering a diverse set of capabilities.


Rather than facing up and down, the milling head sits horizontally. Like vertical machines, this model moves on at least three main axes. However, the table can also rotate for more complex designs.

Because horizontal milling machines can move on up to five axes, they’re more expensive. However, they work better for production workshops that make lots of identical pieces. Programming these machines takes a bit more work as they need more complex software.

Another advantage of these CNC milling machines is that they have two work areas. One allows the device to mill while the other enables a worker to prepare the next set of components. So, workshops can cut their production time in half.


CNC milling machines can operate on more than four axes, which offers greater flexibility and complexity. Adding more axes also increases the cost of the device, but it can produce better pieces. One of the main benefits to adding extra axes is it allows the milling head to do more in the same space. Rather than needing a worker to move pieces and rearrange them, the machine can handle everything itself. Here’s a quick overview of each set of axes and how they work:

  • Three-Axis Machines – These are simple and efficient machines in which the workpiece is fixed in a single position.
  • Four-Axis Machines – These models require high-end software, but they have much more flexibility and production capabilities.
  • Five-Axis Machines – These machines simultaneously move cutting tools or parts along five axes, providing the manufacturing ability to produce a variety of more complicated and accurate parts.

About QT Manufacturing

Since 1990, QT Manufacturing has been a leading domestic manufacturer in Dallas, TX, specializing in plastic injection molding and CNC machining. We are also ISO:9001 and AS9100 rev D certified, serving a wide range of industries. We can do short-run and high-volume productions as needed. We offer:

  • Plastic Injection Molding
  • Custom Injection Molds
  • CNC Production Machining
  • Prototype Solutions

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Knowing the different types of CNC milling machines can help ensure you find the right one for all of your production needs. You’ll need to weigh various elements like cost, complexity, and machine size. From there, you can determine which options offer the best solutions. Contact us to learn more about our production capabilities and for a custom CNC milling machine manufacturing quote today.