At a Glance
About the Process
If your part is any sort of shape other than cylindrical, or lacks rotational symmetry about some imaginary axis through the part body, then a CNC mill is likely the machine for you. With milling, the stock that the part will be cut from is usually a six-sided bar or sheet of material (though it can also be a cylindrical rod). This stock is fixtured to the bed of the machine and the features of the part are cut using a rotating tool such as a drill or endmill.
With a 3-axis machine, the rotating tool mentioned above can translate relative to the part in the X, Y, and Z axes (thus the name), but is fixed in a vertical (or horizontal, depending on the machine) orientation. With modern CNC mills, the tool can also move in any combination of the 3 axes simultaneously.
A 5-axis machine is capable of the same movements as a 3-axis machine, but with added rotation about the X and Y axes. It is usually the bed that rotates rather than the toolhead, though both types of machines do exist. This added rotation allows for much more freedom when machining each setup.
The Fictiv network connects hundreds of highly vetted machinists across the country. This gives engineers streamlined access to a wide range of 50+ models of CNC Mill machines, including: