Lathe Vs Milling Machine | Let’s Find Out The Differences

Lathe Vs Mill

Have you ever become curious to know what machines give the shape of your favorite cricket bat?

Or when buying a new car, have you thought about which machines create the car parts inaccurate shape?

If you are interested to know the answers, you have to know about lathe and mill. These machines are used to reshape and resize the necessary materials.

Every manufacturer’s company, nowadays, provides its factory both lathe machine and milling machines. Yes, they have similarities in many aspects, as both of their tasks are to cut raw materials.

But they complete the task in very different ways. Lathes spin the material, while mill use a spinning tool for various cutting operations.

Do you want to know more? Finding interest in this topic of Lathe Vs Mill? Or you already have your own company, so you want to boost your knowledge about the subject?

Whatever the reason is, grab a popcorn packet and start reading the next part of the article. Your curiosity on Mill Vs Lathe will be satisfied.

What is a Lathe?

The lathe can be defined as a machine tool that holds the work piece and rotates this piece about its axis, primarily for shaping pieces of metal, and sometimes wood or other materials.

The lathe machine is used to turn a work piece on a rotary axis to perform different kinds of operations such as deformation drilling, cutting, sanding, knurling, and so on.

In another definition, A lathe is an intricate machine consisting of several mechanical parts like headstock, lead screw bed, carriage, and tailstock, etc. by which a specific removing and shaping procedure of materials get accomplished.

What is a Mill or Milling Machine?

A mill is a machine that rotates a circular tool that has a number of cutting edges about its axis to produce planes or formed surfaces on a workpiece with the purpose of shaping material.

In the time of this shaping process, the milling machine holds the workpiece in a vise or same device attached to a table that moves in three different perpendicular directions.

For a straightforward definition, we can say, shaping any materials by rotating, several teeth holding cutter is called milling, and the machine used to accomplish the process is called milling machine

A mill is made of parts like column and base, saddle, knee, etc.

Lathe Vs Mill: Their Differences

Both lathe and mill is used to remove material from a workpiece. So, their function is the same. But they are different in how they function.

The biggest distinction between these two machines is their technique.The lathes rotate the material you are working on, with a cutter that remains stationary.Milling machines turn the cutting blade while the material remains still.

Let’s explore the differences by diving into the ocean of lathe mill combo.

How They Work:

The simplest way to tell the difference between lathe and milling machine is, the cutting tool does not whirl in a lathe but the workpiece which is being reshaped whirls about its axis, whereas in a milling machine the workpiece does not revolves but the cutting tool revolves about its axis.

Elaborately, the lathe spins when shaping the material. The lathe spins the material for shaping metal and wood, while an interpolate cutter shapes and curves it.

The lathe machine workpiece is held by the axle, which rotates as per the supplied power, whereas the strictly fixed tool moves against the workpiece to cut it as per the required need.

But in mill, the workpiece remains static, and this machine’s rotatable and pierce cutters shape the material with each rotation.

Besides, the tool is held by the axle which rotates as per the supplied power in the milling machine.

On the other hand, the firmed workpiece moves against or along the tool to get cut and shaped.

Categorization of the Machines:

There are two types of lathes: woodworking and metalworking, based on which they are intended to remove.

Woodworking lathes are generally smaller and get fewer parts compared to metal working lathes.

The milling process is divided into two categories as face and peripheral. In face milling, the cutting tool gets positioned perpendicular to the milling part, but in peripheral meaning, this tool is put parallel to the milling part.

The Difference in Cutting Tools:

The cutting tool that gets used in lathe machines is an enclosed tool that cuts perfectly and usually has a single blade.

As opposed to, in milling machines, the most common cutting tool is the end mill and usually has a couple of blades or edges.

The Output made by Two Machines:

With lathe machines, materials get cut in the cylindrical shape, and they can accomplish only drilling in the center.

But milling machines can do angled cuts and anything non-cylindrical including off-center holes or straight cuts in metal.

The Best Uses:

The cutting, facing, sanding, drilling, as well as knurling, turning, and deformation of material are the best uses of lathe machine.

On the other hand, milling machines work best when you need to drill, bore, cut, shape, flattening, and leveling the corners is its important function.

What they can Make:

The lathe machine can be used to create baseball or cricket bats, bowls and vases, pool cues, woodwind instruments, pottery, gun barrels, and many more.

However, the milling machine is even more versatile than a lathe machine that can create new or repaired car parts, trophies, metal carvings, plumbing fixtures of buildings or factories, gears, and many more.

Should I get a Mill or a Lathe?

Already you own an industry, that’s why you read it. Or after reading the article, now you have decided to own a manufacturing factory where you want to reshape your dreams in the form of materials, my sixth sense told me.

But you have to know which machine you need for the specific task for your company.

If your factory is dedicated to metalworking, woodturning, parts reclamation, thermal spraying, as well as glass-working, choose lathe machine. 

Lathes machine’s use in the pottery industry is well known. Besides, the lathe machine is used in various metal-related industries, including power plants, steel plants, oil and mining industries, shipbuilding factories, repair shops.

On the other hand, if your factory works on developing flat surfaces, or works for drilling, boring, cutting gears, and producing slots, milling machine will be the best choice.

The industries where milling machines are mostly used are the automotive industry, defense industry, and aerospace.

So, if you are running a pottery industry, go for a lathe machine, and if you want to manufacture and supply aerospace goods, go for milling machine. It depends all on the purpose of your factory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you use a mill as a lathe?

Now you know enough information about the lathe and mill accuracy. But maybe, one common question has come to your mind, I guess, can a mill be used as lathe or not. Some doubts about whether milling machines can be used as a lathe machine or not?

The answer is ‘YES’. You can use your mill or milling machine as lathe, but for small parts.

Use it to turn a few very small parts (under 3/4″) of your materials. And remember, though it can be used as lathe, it’s not a great idea as mill bearings will wear much faster.

Having both lathes and milling machines will increase your factory’s performance.

Final Thoughts

We can say that both mill and lathe are essential for the manufacturing industry. Though their function is almost the same, there are crucial differences between how the function.

You need to know the differences if you want to operate your factory smartly.

Hopefully, this article has helped you get the proper knowledge about the exciting topic of Lathe Vs Mill that is going to assist you in your practical life.


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