CNC milling machine: parts and working

Welcome to another post in our blog! Now it’s the time to talk about CNC milling machine parts and how they work. There are lots of different CNC milling machines, but they all share some features that we will discuss now.

How does a CNC milling machine work?

CNC milling is a type of CNC machining process that cuts and shapes a block of the material we have chosen, automating the process thanks to a computer where we have inserted the code with the orders it must give to the machine.

First we will have to create a 2D or 3D model of the part we want to create. Once the design is finished, we will obtain a code that a specialist will insert in the CNC controller. Then, the CNC milling machine will take care of the whole process automatically.

In this way, we save money and time, so our efficiency will grow exponentially.

CNC milling machine parts


The frame is the CNC milling machine part responsible for supporting the machine and the movements and vibrations that arise from its operation. They are normally made of cast iron, since this material is a great vibration absorber and, in addition, it is a very rigid material. On the other hand, when the frame is made of another material with less damping, it is usually filled with another material with high damping, such as epoxy granite.

Cutting tool

The cutting tool is, as its name suggests, the CNC milling machine part in charge of cutting the piece that is fastened to the table. This tool is located in the spindle, which is the instrument that rotates the tool, and is replaceable, as there are many types of cutting tools. They are normally made of carbon steel, but we can also find High-Speed Steel (HSS), solid carbide or ceramics.



The table is the CNC milling machine part where the milling work is carried out. Above the table lies the material to be cut and shaped (and the tools that hold the material). The table can be moved automatically thanks to a motor driven by the code that the machine operator has inserted in the CNC controller.


Other important CNC milling machine parts are the axes. A CNC milling machine can have 3 or more axes, depending on the shape we need to obtain from the block of material, up to a maximum of 5 axes normally.

A basic 3-axis milling machine moves on the X, Y and Z axes thanks to the CNC controller. The milling machine moves on the axes thanks to the ways, which are normally of two types: box ways or dovetail ways. These are usually made of cast iron, a material that slides very easily.


As mentioned before, the spindle is the tool that makes the cutting tool rotate. This tool can rotate at different speeds, depending on the type of cut we need and the type of material we are working with. We can find three types of spindles in the market: fabricated spindles, self-contained spindles and cartridge spindles.

CNC controller

The CNC controller is in charge of sending the orders to the rest of the machine thanks to the code inserted into it by a specialist. The most commonly used code in a numerical control tool is the G-Code.

More CNC milling machine parts: accessories


Choosing the right coolant for our CNC milling works will give us longer tool life and a better result. Not all coolants are the same: some have lubricating properties, while others work better at chip evacuation. We must also take into account the amount of coolant we will need, as this is not a cheap product and can lead to extra costs in the company.

Way oiler

We mentioned earlier that some coolants have lubricating properties to make the finish of the part as accurate as possible. However, another part of the CNC milling machine that needs lubricant are the ways that allow the movement of the spindle and the cutting tool. The lubrication process is usually automated, although it can also be done manually.

More axes

If we have a three-axis milling machine, it may not be useful for certain parts. For better movement, we can add one or two more axes so that the cutting tool can make other cuts. Although they are not so common, we can find CNC milling machines with more than 5 axes.

Powered drawbar

A powered drawbar is required if you want to save time by replacing automatically the cutting tool. How does it work? A powered drawbar allows the automatic capture and release of a tool holder from the spindle.


If you’ve ever seen a CNC milling machine work, you’ll know that it’s a very noisy and dirty process. That’s why many CNC milling machines have an enclosure that allows you to mute the work a little more, as well as allowing for better cleaning.

Inoxform, leader in CNC milling services

Did our article on CNC milling machine parts help you? We hope so. In Inoxform we have state-of-the-art CNC milling machines with and the best quality team. Only by working with the best in the market will we achieve the best results for our customers.

Do you want to count on our CNC milling and CNC machining services? Simply contact our team by email or phone. This way we can talk comfortably about your project. Discover what it’s like to work with a world reference in CNC machining for the automotive sector. Discover Inoxform.

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