CNC Mill – How it Works & Advantages

If you’re a machinist or someone looking to open their parts manufacturing plant, then you may have already come across CNC milling. It is the machine that can automate the process and make your life a lot easier.

However, it might not be for everyone, you need to understand how the CNC mill works, and what its benefits are before deciding whether to buy one or not. That said, let’s dive right in:

So, What Does CNC Milling Do?

With the help of a CNC mill, you can transform a regular casting into a workable part that can be used in a larger product. These parts need to have greater tolerances, which the raw castings don’t have – they need to go through the machining process to have that tolerance. Here are the top three things done on CNC mills:

  • Creating Flat Surfaces: It puts a flat surface on the workpiece and creates a finished sealed surface without any risk of leakages.
  • Drilling Holes: As the name suggests, the casting is drilled holes into it and with tapping, threads are added – the most typical way to put together parts.
  • Boring Holes: If an existing hole needs to be enlarged, a stiff boring bar does the job using a single point tool for cutting that creates an accurate inner cavity in the workpiece With the help of boring, parts can be assembled very tightly.

A typical milling process usually includes the following steps:

  1. Creating parts designs in CAD
  2. Converting and formatting those CAD files into machine code
  3. Setting up the right machine with right axis options
  4. Letting the machine do its job and produce the parts
How Does CNC Mill Works?

The key factor in deciding how your mill is going to work or what the precision of the CNC mill will be for your project is its 3-5 axis milling options. Let’s discuss them below:

  • 2-Axis Machine: Although not very popular, it’s still used by many for building manual fixtures. It only moves on the X & Y axes and doesn’t repeat much.
  • 3-Axis Machine: Mostly leveraged for vertical milling, moves on all three axes – x, y & z.
  • 4- Axis Machine: This is the most commonly found machine in the CNC milling shop. It moves on the X, Y, & Z axes along with an additional B axis. This allows the table to rotate providing access around the workpiece.
  • 5-Axis Machine: This is the one with most angles as it offers x, y, & z along with additional B and A axes. These are specialty CNC milling machines and if you need the most precision in a CNC mill, 5-axis is your go-to machine.

The most commonly used ones are from 3-5 axis milling machines with the last one being the most accurate so it’s not recommended for high volume work.

Vertical & Horizontal CNC Mill – What’s the Difference?

There are two kinds of spindle orientations in the realm of CNC machines. The first one is vertical where the spindle axis, known as the z-axis leans vertically. In its c-column configuration, you will see the spindle move in the z-axis direction and the table holding workpiece will move in x and y axes in horizontal directions. The best part of using vertical CNC milling machines is they are the best fit for high-volume work where on-site milling is needed such as brackets and covers and their deadlines are closing with speed.

The horizontal CNC mills are opposite to what we discussed above. They have a horizontally oriented z-axis, which is usually paralleled to the machine’s length. The spindle moves on the vertical y-axis and when it goes horizontal, it moves along the x-axis.  The fixtures and pallets hold the workpiece in place and move in the z-axis while b-axis rotates. There are several benefits of horizontal machining such as the ability to access the machine from 4 sides, milling more complex parts, better evacuation of chips, and completing multiple tasks on a single fixture.

Advantages of Using CNC Mill:
  • There are various reasons why many machinists opt for CNC milling instead of the manual one, let’s have a look at them below:
  • The milling cutter is sort of a multi-touch took with each of its teeth participates intermittently in the work resulting in excellent cooling for the cutting tool, improved speed, higher durability, and better productivity.
  • It can almost take place of the planner because CNC mill has the ability to produce a broader range of products
  • If you need mass production and fast prototyping, CNC milling is perfect for you
  • You can produce thousands of milling parts in a very short time
  • With the high precision of the CNC mill, repeatability is very accurate. You can produce thousands of parts with the exact specifications
  • Numerical computer-based control that confirms the precision of final workpiece result
  • It is highly automated so that means you don’t need a large number of operators and labor to make it work, which reduces the cost
  • With 3-5 axis milling, you can create complex designs, specifications, geometries, and much more
  • CNC milling parts processing have great flexibility and adaptability
Some Caveats of CNC Milling:
  • The machine itself and the setup cost is more expensive than its manual counterparts
  • You need to have properly trained workers to operate the machine, small mistakes can result in big losses
  • Might not be very cost-efficient for small batches of products, but you will save a lot of money if producing a large number of the same products
Parting Words:

There is no doubt these automated machines have eliminated the need for hiring a big staff to take care of everything thing. Plus, the production time is reduced as CNC milling can be done faster than manual machine working.

However, it needs to have a design in CAD, which will be translated into the machine’s language, this can take a little bit of time. So if you are making mass batches of the same design, the CNC mill is perfect for you.

Benefits of CNC Lathe Machining & How To Choose the Right One?

If you are stepping your toe into the vast sea of CNC machines and have decided to go for lathe then there are a lot of things to know. Firstly, what are some of the main advantages you can get with a CNC lathe machine instead of a manual one?

Secondly, knowing the main types of CNC lathe machining and how to choose the right one will save you a world of pain. So if you’re ready to know every important detail about selecting and buying CNC lathe machines, read on.

Benefits of Using CNC Lathe Machining:
  • Fully Automated: Since CNC operates on computer language, you don’t need a human telling it what to do by moving its spindles around. You can produce hundreds or even thousands of similar dimensions with just one design. Once the design made from CAD software is put inside the machine, you don’t need to supervise it, the machine will keep producing the same design.
  • Versatility: The automated CNC machines are very versatile, they can produce almost any type of part or product, from furniture pieces to auto parts to delicate crockery and delicate lamps, everything can be made using them right inside your CNC lathe shop.
  • Excellent Accuracy: When manual labor is involved, there is a chance of them not producing the same thing every single time – the accuracy will suffer a little. This is not the problem with the CNC lathe. There is 2 to 9 axis in CNC lathe machines that you can use to carve out the same designs everything Just programs its machine to do what you want and it’ll do just that.
  • High Cost Efficiency: Although the setup cost can be a little high than its manual counterpart, it’s a one-time expense. After that, you will save money on hiring labor to manage it because it’s mostly automated. Plus, by producing parts with 20x efficiency, you’ll recoup the investment pretty quickly.
CNC Lathe Types:

There are mainly two types of these machines, whether it’s a CNC metal lathe or any other material-based. The first one is vertical where the workpiece rotates in more of an upright position just like the movement of a pottery wheel. This allows the spindle to reach and cut unreachable positions and angles. This kind of machine is used on bulky and heavy materials that are so big that cranes are used to load them.

The horizontal ones are the typical CNC lathe shop machines as they’re commonly found in workshops. They rotate the workpiece cylindrically and while it rotates, the machine operates on it using different tools to give it desired (programmed) shape and design. The chuck in these holds materials vertically and these machines are typically needed for lighter workpieces.

Choosing the Right Machine for Your CNC Lathe Shop:

Machine Weight:

The weight plays an integral part in your hunt for a CNC lathe machine because if it is on the heavier side, it means it will bear the rigorous bumps and vibrations produced during the production.

A lightweight machine will have higher chances of breaking down and it can also quickly get out of balance impacting your output. Look for the machine made of cast iron, they are very durable.

Bed & Swing Measurement:

A machine’s swing measurement is the max diameter amount of material that can be designed or cut on the lathe. The measurement starts from the machine’s bed to the center of its spindle. The measurement of the bed is the max length a workpiece can have to be used in a lathe machine.

Know the type of parts and materials you’ll be designing and producing and get the bed and swing size accordingly.

Types of Stand Storage:

The base of the whole CNC lathe machine is its stand. If you are searching for a table-top kind of lathe then you don’t need to pay attention to the stand but if you’ll be working on bigger projects, you’ll have to be extremely careful regarding the stand’s design.

Since the lathe machine experiences a lot of disturbances and vibrations when working on a material (metal especially), it should have a stand that can absorb these shocks. Having a tool storage box in the lathe machine will also help as you can add some weight inside it to stabilize the machine.

Bed & Headstock:

Any CNC lathe machine usually has a bed that’s made from cast iron and is connected with the headstock in such a way that the tailstock and tool carriage work side by side with the spindle’s axis. When you’re getting a machine, whether a CNC metal lathe or any other for your CNC lathe shop, ensure the bed has high durability because most of the operations will rely on it.

Next, make sure the headstock of your CNC lathe is made from cast iron, which will give more rigidity to the whole machine. Also, the headstock spindle is one of the main parts of the headstock that rotates the piece so we can call it the heart of the entire operation. Make sure to pay close attention when choosing a spindle.

Drive & Motor:

Depending on the kind of lathe motor you get for your machine, the final output will be either too good, average, or poor. If you are just stepping foot into the world of lathes, pay close attention to its motor.

If you have a small operation, you can select the motor having as low as 1/3 horsepower. Do not compromise on the quality of your lathe machine’s motor otherwise, it can quickly break down, making you spend money on repairs or replacement.

Parting Words:

There’s no doubt CNC lathe shop can do wonders when it comes to pumping out batches of the same design without much supervision. However, it is also an expensive machine and if you make even a small mistake in getting things right, you can end up losing some money.

So make sure to first assess your needs, the kind of materials you’ll be working with, and the type of products you’ll be making, and then select the machine accordingly.

Understanding AS9100D



Salco is thrilled to have received the AS9100D certification in February 2019. This latest certification applies to our Denver facility. It symbolizes Salco's dedication to continuous improvement and the desire to exceed any customer quality expectations.

What is AS9100?

The term AS9100 is an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS) standard. This is based on the international QMS standard ISO 9001 and provides additional requirements directly specific to the aerospace industry.

This sector is governed by the FAA, space, and defense regulations. Having an AS9100 QMS, it is used to help businesses adapt to the evolving needs and demanding requirements put in place by the aerospace industry.

Not only does it provide a needed framework for businesses to operate by, but it also provides your customers with confidence about the quality and reliability of the products they purchase from your company.

What is AS9100 Rev D?

The international QMS standards are updated often in order to stay relevant to the industry needs and also adapts to emerging trends. The most recent update that went from Rev C to Rev D of the AS9100 was released back in September 2016, and companies were given until September 2018 to transition to the new Rev D standard.

The revision also coincides with the AS9100 standard's newest revision of ISO 9001 released back in 2015. The current version of AS9100 Rev D emphasizes companies creating value for their customers by integrating the QMS requirements into their business processes.

In this latest update, the major revision areas pertain to product safety, risk management, counterfeit prevention, configuration management, and human factors.

Salco's commitment to quality

Salco was first added to the AS9100 certification, and it's the list of quality certifications back in 2007 to help support the dynamic needs of the aerospace industry and the customers served, like Boeing.

Salco underwent an extensive upgrade audit at its manufacturing location to obtain the AS9100 Rev D certification. Conforming to the new revision of the AS9100D represents our compliance with the most current requirements based on the aerospace standards.

Conformance to these standards in place helps to ensure that Salco maintains the highest quality products and process control in our manufacturing facility.

The AS9100d standard also includes the ISO 9001, the quality management system requirements that define additional aviation, defense, and space industry requirements, descriptions, and notes.

The requirements are specified in the standards and are complementary (not alternative) to the customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

If there becomes a conflict between the customer and the standard's requirements, the regulatory requirements, or the applicable statutory, the latter shall take precedence.

The International Standard is set to layout the requirements for a quality management system and is defended as when an organization:

a. needs to show its ability to consistently provide products and services designed to meet the customer and any applicable statutory and or any regulatory requirements, and

b. aims to increase the overall customer satisfaction through a practical application system; this includes improving the system and the assurance of conformity regarding the customer and applicable statutory and any regulatory requirements.

The requirements of the International Standards are designed to be generic and are intended to be applied within any organization, regardless of its size or type of products or services they provide.

What Exactly is Metrology

Metrology is defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) as “the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology”.

Metrology is how companies guarantee certain comparisons of global measurement results. As an example, metrology is used to help ensure that the parts in the vehicles we drive are accurately and precisely measured, manufactured, and assembled despite the different manufacturing processes language barriers, and measurement systems (such as US and metric) that are used by the manufacturers.

Metrology also incorporates precision measuring tools like the coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) also the precision measurement sensors.

Globally Standardizing Precision Machined Parts
Today’s global supply chains are using the international measuring standards to help precisely manufacture, distribution, and assembly machined parts through out the world.

All different types of factories from different countries can precisely machine identical parts from CAD or drawings. Each manufacturer’s measuring instrument is calibrated with the same specific thresholds.

These calibrations are designed to ensure that all of the parts created will fit together and work as they were intended to. After the calibration phase is over, the production machines are then set and the quality assurance and controls are confirmed.

Types of Metrology Equipment
A coordinate measuring machine is a system that measures the testing product by combining a probe with the coordinate system to measure the geometric physical points of the product.

In addition to accurate measurements, CMMs have the advantage of providing real-time information on the condition of the manufacturing process to the CMM operator. All global CMMs must comply with the ISO 10360 international measurement standards and can be controlled by either an operator or a computer. Five major types of CMMs are used in today’s metrology:

This is used primarily for measuring master parts.

Most popular with digitizing and scanning jobs for the mold, stamping, and machining markets.

Used for measuring heavy, large parts such as large dies and molds.

Horizontal Arm:
This is used to measure parts in industries such as defense, aerospace, and appliances.

Portable (PCMM):
Handheld 3D and geometric tolerance and dimensioning measurements which can also be ISO 10360-certified.

Touch-trigger probes are the most commonly used type of probe in metrology because they remove touch bias and can be used with computer control.

There are also two major groupings of probes: contact and non-contact. Contact or tactile probes include:

Hand Probes:
Hand probes are designed to measure curved surfaces, but one must watch out for tactile differences that can be caused by the operators.

Touch-Trigger Probes:
This is the most popular type of probes. It simply removes touch bias and can be used by direct computer control.

Analog Probes:
Use CAS technology to measure irregular shapes and contorted surfaces, like sheet metal. Non-contact probes are used for large, complex geometric, flexible parts. They include:

Laser Probes:
Laser probes are a triangulation with a beam of light designed for high-speed component measurements.

Vision Probes:
Vision Probes are designed for high-speed measurements of small, 2D parts with images taken from a camera.

As previously noted, manufacturers from all over the world need to meet or exceed the set specified tolerances of each item tested so they will fit and work exactly as they were designed to.

This quality assurance covers components manufactured from medical devices to rocket engines and everything in-between. In fact, precision measurement technology is used to ensure the quality assurance of measurements up to one-thousandth of a millimeter.