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What are the two basic types of milling?

November 22, 2023

Exploring the Fundamental Types of Milling

Milling, a fundamental machining process, is a versatile method used to shape solid materials into precise forms and dimensions. It involves the removal of material from a workpiece using rotary cutters to create various geometries and intricate designs. The process plays a pivotal role in manufacturing, offering immense flexibility and precision. Broadly speaking, milling can be classified into two primary types: peripheral milling and face milling.

Peripheral Milling

Peripheral milling, also known as slab or conventional milling, is one of the fundamental techniques in milling operations. In this method, the cutting action occurs primarily along the periphery of the cutter. The cutting tool, typically with multiple teeth, rotates around its axis and engages the workpiece at its periphery.

Key Features of Peripheral Milling:

  1. Direction of Cutting: In peripheral milling, the cutting action is in the same direction as the cutter’s rotation. This approach often results in a smoother surface finish due to reduced vibrations and cutter engagement.

  2. Applications: It's commonly used for creating slots, pockets, and contouring the periphery of a workpiece. Its versatility allows for the machining of various materials, including metals, plastics, and composites.

  3. Tool Engagement: The engagement of the cutting tool occurs gradually, reducing the amount of material removed with each pass. This gradual engagement helps in achieving precise cuts.

  4. Machine Compatibility: Peripheral milling is compatible with different milling machines, including vertical milling machines and horizontal milling machines.

Face Milling

On the other hand, face milling involves the cutting action primarily at the corners of the milling cutter, targeting the flat surface of the workpiece. This technique is particularly effective in creating flat surfaces and intricate features on a workpiece.

Key Features of Face Milling:

  1. Surface Quality: Face milling often results in a superior surface finish on the workpiece due to its cutting action concentrated on the face of the cutter. This process can produce intricate patterns or shapes on a flat surface.

  2. Applications: It's widely used for machining large, flat surfaces, creating slots, pockets, and surfaces perpendicular to the cutter axis. Face milling is also employed in roughing and finishing operations.

  3. Tool Design: Face milling cutters have multiple cutting edges and can accommodate inserts for improved tool life and cutting efficiency.

  4. Efficiency: Face milling is efficient for removing large amounts of material in a single pass, enhancing productivity in various manufacturing processes.


Both peripheral milling and face milling are integral in modern machining operations, offering distinct advantages and applications. The choice between these methods depends on factors such as the desired surface finish, workpiece geometry, material properties, and machining efficiency.

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