Mill vs Lathe: Which Machine is Best for Your Work?

Manufacturing has quickly become one of the most critical sectors in the world. After the industrial revolution and the inventions of electricity, machines, and other such essential discoveries, manufacturing has been rapidly growing from a small to the largest scale. From assembly lines to complete automation of some processes, the manufacturing industry has seen phenomenal progress, and now we can find any and every product with almost every unit formed perfectly identical.

So here we are with an interesting article that has lots of information about mill machines vs lathe machines. The question is, everyone keeps on asking, which machine is best for work. So, in the end, you will get to know your answer. 

Mill vs Lathe


MIll Machine

The original milling machine was invented in the year 1783 by Samuel Rehe, and it was put to use in the year 1795 by Eli Terry at Plymouth, Connecticut, to produce tall case clocks. Many changes have been made to the milling process by various personalities.

Milling is the process of removing material by the use of rotary cutters advancing on a workpiece. It can be done at various different speed levels, pressure, and on one or several axes. The procedure of milling can be done by using multiple machines, but the original range of tools used for milling was the aptly named milling machine, also known as a mill. Various modifications were made after the advent of computer numeric control in the year 1960, after which milling evolved into machining centers. There are two significant types of milling processes: face milling and peripheral milling. In the former method, the cutting action occurs at the end corners of the cutter, and it is used for cutting flat surfaces or flat-bottomed cavities. In peripheral milling, the cutting action is performed along the circumference of the cutter and is suited for cutting out deep slots, threads, and gear teeth.

The milling machines are versatile in nature as they are used for multiple functions like drilling, cutting, and so on. The most commonly used type is a vertical spindle machine with a swiveling head.


lathe machine

One of the most frequently used machines in the field of machining, which is an essential method of material removal, is the lathe machine. It is used extensively around the globe in the manufacturing industry, and is also commonly known as the ‘mother of the tool room.’ The lathe machine is generally used for the functions of metal spinning, woodturning, glasswork, and metalwork. In layman terms, it is used to give shape to wood or iron bars with the use of a tool.

The main components of a lathe machine are headstock, tailstock, and a tool post. Some of the various operations performed by using this machine are grooving, boring, drilling, turning, and facing. The machine holds the workpiece between two rigid supports called centers or in a revolving faceplate called a chuck. The cutting tool is held in a tool post, which is then fed against the revolving work. The scope of the lathe machine is so wide that it is one of the first tools to be introduced to any mechanical or production engineering student, which is due to the fact that it is an integral part of the manufacturing technology.

Difference Between Mill and Lathe

A huge proportion of the manufacturing units have both milling and lathe machines, as both of them have their own essential uses for production and assembly line processes. Both milling and lathe machines follow the same machining principle known as subtractive machining, where a block of material is used to get the desired shapes and specifications. The difference between these two machines is in the process through which the shape is acquired. In a lathe machine, the material that is being utilized spins on its axis, and the cutting tool remains still. This is referred to as ‘turning,’ and it is efficient for making cylindrical parts. Thus, the lathe machine is an optimum choice to create quick, repeatable, and symmetric cylindrical parts.

On the contrary, milling machines have a completely different mechanism, where the tool rotates on its axis, and the workpiece does not rotate. This proves to be advantageous as many intricate and detailed operations can be done because of the multiple orientations in the milling machine. The most beneficial factor about a milling machine is versatility, as the possibilities of conducting operations using this machine are near to endless. There are various cutting tools and styles of end mills that cover a majority proportion of functions required. Milling machines are used in making more intricate designs like an intake manifold, which would be very difficult to perform in a lathe machine. Although the milling machine can make more intricate and complex shapes, the lathe machine has a superior performance over cylindrical parts, and when the continuous output of cylindrical parts is required, lathe emerges as the optimum machine.

Which machine is best for your work?

Thus, both lathe and milling machines are extensively used and have a wide scope; the significant difference lies in the functioning of the machines. Both machines have different uses, and they can be chosen according to the requirement of the manufacturing unit. So, choose the machine as per your need and necessity, and you will see the end result beautiful. 

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