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CNC Milling or Turning? Choosing the Best Process for Your Application

Milling and turning are two of the most common machining processes. While both processes employ similar machining principles, their functions, mechanisms, and applications differ significantly. Table 1 below outlines some of the key differences between the two processes.


While a few components can be machined using just one technique, most products will go through several different machining and finishing processes before they are ready to ship. The exact combination depends on the shape, size, and material of the part. 

Large Part CNC Machining

The size of your component is an important consideration when selecting a machining provider. At Blue Grass Manufacturing, we’ve made it simple to machine large or heavy components. In our machining facility, we maintain a variety of lathes and mills of all sizes so that we always have the right equipment to do the job.

Our 3-axis, 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machines allow us to process parts as large as 48 inches (1220 mm) in length, 23.62 inches (600 mm) in width, and 23.62 inches (600 mm) in height. Similarly, our CNC lathes have a maximum capacity of 24 inches (609 mm) in part diameter and 30 inches (762 mm) in length. We have also outfitted many of our stations with cranes, allowing us to process and handle heavy materials easily.

Small Part CNC Machining

We can run Swiss screw machine parts or lower volume on our smaller bar feed multi-axis lathes with live tooling. We have high speed 4-axis and 5-axis milling/drilling/ tapping capabilities on machines with rapid rates up to 2500 inches per minute (IPM) and feed rates up to 1200 inches per minute.

CNC Machined Parts

If a component can be machined, we can produce it for you. Some of the parts we’ve machined in the past include:

     • Bars

     • Castings

     • Extrusions

     • Forgings

     • Tubes

Materials We Work With

We carefully select the material for your machined parts according to the needs of your project. Our engineers are skilled in the use of various metals and plastics to produce high-tolerance surfaces at low cost, such as:

     • Aluminum

     • Brass

     • Copper

     • Engineered plastics

     • Iron

     • Stainless, carbon and alloy steel

     • Castings and forgings


To consistently reach a high level of precision in our products, we dedicated countless hours of intense study and employed highly skilled engineers. You’d be hard-pressed to propose a tolerance that our expert team can’t accomplish. Our machinists think nothing of holding tolerances of ±0.001 inches (25µm) on a 10-inch (254mm) diameter part. These tolerances are so tight that we have to control the part temperature during measurement. We can even go to tighter tolerances to compensate for thermal warping to deliver tolerances of ±0.0004 inches. 


Additional Services 

Additional services include weldingCMM inspection, and assembly, as well as all manner of outsourced processes such as heat treat, plating, grinding, painting and other secondary services sourced through our large network of suppliers. As a turnkey service provider, our capabilities range from single components to complete mechanical assemblies.

We are proud to be ISO 9001 certified and employ a Six Sigma black belt on staff. All necessary statistical data required for production part approval processes (PPAP), statistical process control reports (SPC), or other quality documentation can be provided on request.

CNC Machining – All You Need to Know

CNC machining is an umbrella term that encompasses the range of manufacturing techniques used to shape raw material. CNC stands for computer numerical control, referring to the fact that computers guide all CNC processes. The integration of computer control components allows for greater control over drills, lathes, mills, and other machining equipment.


How Does it Work?

As computers guide the manufacturing processes in CNC machining operations, it’s important to provide machining instructions that the computer can understand. Typically, this requires a computer-generated, detailed model of the desired part.

Once the design is finalized, specialized software extracts information about the part from the design and generates a program containing a list of machine commands. These commands dictate the movements and actions of the CNC machine, instructing it on when and how to remove material from the workpiece, resulting in the desired form. Once these instructions are loaded to the machine, the operator can initiate the program to execute the machining operation.


Advantages of CNC Machining

The most obvious benefit of CNC machining is its precision. As machining operation is controlled entirely by computers, errors are far less frequent compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

For the same reason, CNC also improves the efficiency of the production process, reducing the workload of human operators to allow for faster turnaround. Improvements in efficiency also come from the ability to integrate multiple processes: a computer can control multiple machines in quick succession without the need to manually move the workpiece.


Industrial Applications

The versatility of CNC machining allows it to find use in a variety of industrial manufacturing applications. Almost any component that can be produced through subtractive processes can be made by CNC machining, ranging from simple machine parts, castings, forgings, and extrusions to more complex and intricate components. The CNC process is especially suited for creating near-net components, which are parts that require little to no surface finishing after their initial production.

Our comprehensive range of machining capabilities enables us to work with clients from many distinct industries, including:

• Agriculture
• Appliance
• Automotive
• Construction
• Lighting
• Oil and gas

At Blue Grass Manufacturing, we have few limitations when it comes to part design. We are always excited to approach a new CNC challenge, and our engineers will take great pains to understand and meet your exact specifications. We also understand that different industrial applications require different production volumes, and we can scale our service offerings accordingly. We have the capability of providing services and product from North America production facilities along with providing product from abroad.


Why Machining at Blue Grass Manufacturing?

Although CNC machining provides manufacturers with the ability to produce a wide range of simple and complex parts and components, the manufacturing technique is worthless without a team with the skills and knowledge to execute it properly.

At Blue Grass Manufacturing, we have 37 years of experience and satisfied clients that can attest to our machining skills. We employ advanced technology and talented engineers to achieve industry-leading results, and we’re constantly pushing ourselves to innovate further.

In addition to our machining expertise, we also offer value-added services to facilitate the delivery of a finished part. Our additional in-house capabilities include welding, CMM inspection, and light assembly, containment services along with providing stop gap coverage of parts critical to your production lines.


We also maintain an extensive network of trusted vendors that allows us to expand our secondary service offerings to include heat treating, plating, grinding, painting, and more. We are truly a turnkey provider, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make your project a reality, whether it’s a single component, a basic prototype, or a complete mechanical assembly.

To learn more about our CNC machining capabilities or to partner with us for your next machining project, contact us or request a quote today.


With over 38 years of experience using precision lathes, mills, drills, and saws, Blue Grass Manufacturing has perfected their CNC machining techniques to produce high-quality machined parts. Starting with your AutoCAD, IGES, PDF, or SolidWorks file, our expert team uses our cutting-edge machinery and processes to reproduce your design to tight tolerances.


We perform a variety of CNC machining operations that center around our 3-axis turning and 4-axis vertical and horizontal milling, along with 5-axis machining. Our machining capabilities and materials include:


     • Milling

     • Turning & Hard Turning

     • Green Machining

     • Boring

     • Drilling & Tapping

     • Broaching

     • Facing

     • Thread cutting & thread rolling

As an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer that complies with UL standards, you can be confident in our competence.

Our expertise in CNC machining extends to a diverse set of parts varying in size, shape, and material for a wide range of industries, including agriculture, automotive, HVAC, oil and gas, and many others. With such a varied clientele, we’ve honed our ability to produce quality products for any application, and our engineers won’t shy away from a challenge.

Regardless of the complexity of your design, we’ll find a way to meet your needs in a timely, cost-effective manner.


     • Steel

     • Stainless Steel

     • Aluminum

     • Iron 

     • Brass

     • Copper​

     • Engineered Plastics

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