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Milling is the process of machining using rotary cutters to remove material by advancing a cutter into a workpiece. This may be done by varying directions on one or several axes, cutter head speed, and pressure. Milling covers a wide variety of different operations and machines, on scales from small individual parts to large, heavy-duty gang milling operations. It is one of the most commonly used processes for machining custom parts to precise tolerances.
Milling can be done with a wide range of machine tools. The original class of machine tools for milling was the milling machine (often called a mill). After the advent of computer numerical control (CNC) in the 1960s, milling machines evolved into machining centers: milling machines augmented by automatic tool changers, tool magazines or carousels, CNC capability, coolant systems, and enclosures. Milling centers are generally classified as vertical machining centers (VMCs) or horizontal machining centers (HMCs).
The integration of milling into turning environments, and vice versa, began with live tooling for lathes and the occasional use of mills for turning operations. This led to a new class of machine tools, multitasking machines (MTMs), which are purpose-built to facilitate milling and turning within the same work envelope.