The similarity between the Milling machine and Lathe lies in how both machines shape and cut materials. They have different types of machines meant for specific materials and a certain way of running the cutting action.

A method of operation, size, shape, and performance differs between the two products. The difference is that the Lathe machine does not have a rotating cutting tool, whereas the Milling machine has one. A more detailed review below will take you through how these two products operate, their weaknesses, and their strengths.

Milling Machine

The Milling machine removes material from a work-piece. The process includes taking the work-piece to the cutting tool. The difference between the Milling machine from the Lathe is that it has a cutting tool with many blades. 

The cutting tool comes in a point form. The Milling machine comes in two forms, just like the Lathe machine. There is the Face milling machine and the Peripheral milling machine. The difference between these two is in the cutting action. When you are using Face milling, the cutting action takes place around the outside of the cutting tool. 

an industrial milling machine at work

When you use a Peripheral milling machine, the cutting process is across the cutting tool’s circumference. The machine varies in price depending on the cutting tools involved and other features that will be improved. Chances are very high that the Milling machine works on a wide range of materials than a lathe machine.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Durable construction
  • Flexible computer controls
  • Accurate cuts
  • Multiple cuts 

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Pricey

Lathe

A Lathe is a machine that is used to shape the material. Two types of lathes are used on different materials. The Wood lathe only works on wood material. Chances are very low that you can successfully use it on hard material such as metal. You may use it on plastic. The Metal lathe appears to be the universal machine that you can use on any type of material. 

An industrial grade lathe

The reason is: it has a hardened cutting tool that makes it easier and faster to cut through metal. It is a powerful machine with a heavy-duty motor. A Lathe has multiple parts. These include a tailstock, headstock, carriage, bed, and many more. The process of shaping material involves rotating metal or wood against a cutting tool. The cutting tool has a single blade. 

The work-piece needs to be fixed onto the machine. The cutting tool does not move or rotate. The wood lathe is lightweight and smaller. This is the reason why Metal lathes have to be mounted as they are heavy.

A process called turning characterizes the Lathe machine. It is ideal for parts that take up the cylinder shape. Other processes take place when using the Lathe machine. These include threading, drilling, boring, and many more. 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Solid
  • Fast
  • Accurate
  • Requires minimum operators

Cons

  • Requires constant maintenance
  • It is selective

Main Features

  • Headstock
  • Tailstock
  • Spindle

Milling machine

Column and Base

The column and base are the sources of support on a Milling machine. It has a small tank for oil and a pump that keeps your machine lubricated. The column rests on the base.

Table

The rectangular base on top of the saddle is convenient in keeping all your additional equipment closer to you. It comes with T-slots that can keep your jigs. You can choose to operate it using your own hands or by power. 

Spindle

The shaft you hold when driving the cutting tool is the spindle. It does not operate independently but is mounted onto the bearings. The electric motor drives it into motion.

Lathe

Bed

This is the base of the Lathe machine. This is where the headstock and carriage are. The carriage rests on top of the bed just like how the column rests on top of the base on a Milling machine. The bed is quite solid so that it withstands the pressure that comes with the workload.

Toolpost

Unlike the Milling machine with a table that holds all your tools, the Lathe gives you a tool post. The tool post is located on top of the machine. It comes in three types, and that is the ring and rocker tool post, square-head and quick change tool post. 

Spindle

This is where the rotation of the work-piece takes place. When you are using the Lathe machine, the work-piece rotates, whereas the cutting tool rotates when you are using the Milling machine. 

What could be better?

Milling machine

  • It could have been better to work with if it was not complex. It is not all the time that an experienced user gets to have such a machine. 
  • The Milling machine could have been smaller, just like the Lathe, so that it will not use more space in your garage.

Lathe

  • The cutting tool could have been made in such a way that it has optional blades. The user might have been up for a machine that gives you choices regarding the shape and style of the cutting tool.
  • Since the Lathe machine is limited to the type of material it works on depending on the mechanism, it might have been convenient to be a universal lathe machine.

Similar Features

  • Both machines remove different types of material from a work-piece
  • They use a cutting tool.
  • Both machines can make the same cuts.

Key Differences

Cutting blade

The Milling machine has a cutting tool that comes in two forms. It can be multi-bladed or pointed. The Lathe machine has a single-bladed tool only. Both machines can make the same cuts, but with a Lathe, it takes numerous setups for the same result.

Size

A Milling machine is taller than a Lathe. However, this does not mean that the Milling machine does not have smaller versions. The manufacturers are trying to make machines that do not occupy more space. 

Method of operation

When you are using a Lathe, the work-piece rotates against the cutting tool. The cutting g tool is always stationary. The case is different on the Milling machine. The cutting tool is the one that rotates while the work-piece remains motionless. Besides size and the blades, this is the main difference between the machines.

Performance

A Milling machine is a versatile tool. What makes this possible is its specialty in cutting tools. It has multiple styles of end mills. It is a more complex machine than a lathe.

Some parts and items are difficult to work on using a lathe. Trophies can be challenging when working with a Lathe machine, unlike the Milling machine.  

Cost

Although the Milling machine attracts a steeper price range, it still has some affordable models. The cost is determined by the innovations that come with a certain model. Lathe machines are affordable. This does not mean that they are less in performance. 

Final Verdict

It is important to note the differences between these machines so that you will maximize their performances by working on the right art using the appropriate tool. The Lathe machine appears to be simple, affordable, and small, although it is limited to the type of material and styles it can produce.

The Milling machine can be pricey, but it is worth the cost. It is a versatile tool that can be more innovative than Lathe. The cutting tool has different shapes that allow the user to work on multiple styles. It is good for business. That is why I highly recommend the Milling machine.

David D. Hughes