Differences Between CNC Routers and CNC Mills

Differences Between CNC Routers and CNC Mills

When exploring options for a CNC machining service , you’ll likely encounter two primary machines: CNC routers and CNC mills. While both machines perform similar functions—removing material to shape a part—they have unique features that set them apart. Understanding these differences can help product designers make more informed decisions about which machine best suits their project. Let’s first look at their similarities before diving into what sets them apart.

Common features

Both CNC routers and CNC mills offer computer-controlled technology that precisely and accurately cuts material blocks or billets, whether metal or plastic. This process minimizes human error, resulting in automated parts that adhere to strict tolerances. Typically, a CNC machining service employs skilled operators and programmers to manage these machines effectively.

Distinct differences

Design and working range

CNC milling machines are engineered for cutting hard, industrial-grade materials like various metals. Conversely, CNC routers are often the go-to option for softer materials like plastics and softer metals. Although CNC mills have a smaller footprint, they are more rigid due to their weight distribution, which helps dampen vibrations while machining hard substances.

Tooling choices

CNC mills usually utilize end mills for precise cutting, slotting, and contouring. CNC routers, on the other hand, use router bits for cutting, engraving, and shaping. The tools for both machines come with varying numbers of spiral-patterned or straight flutes, ground at specific angles, and are available in diverse shapes and sizes.

Speed and accuracy

Any reputable CNC machining service will promise both speed and accuracy. However, these factors are machine-dependent. CNC routers generally have higher revolutions per minute (RPM) than milling machines, enabling them to operate at higher feed rates. However, they are less suited for making deep cuts or working with hard materials. 

Types of materials

CNC mills are highly versatile and can handle a wide range of materials, including hard metals like titanium, stainless steel, and carbon steel. CNC routers excel at cutting softer materials like aluminum and plastics, provided they aren’t excessively thick.

Cost considerations

The overall cost of a CNC machining service can vary depending on the number of routers or mills used for your project. It’s wise to discuss this aspect with your chosen service provider to get a clearer understanding of the costs involved.

Leave it to the experts.

Our CNC machining service takes the guesswork out of choosing the best machine for your project. Entrust your machining needs to our experts at HLH Proto, and receive your parts quickly and cost-effectively. Contact us today for a free project review!


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