Manual Milling vs. Laser Cutting

Posted on May 19th, 2021 | Categories News

The manual milling machine has for many years been an important part of the manufacturing process. In fact, the list of sectors that have benefited from its precision machining capabilities is seemingly endless. Milling is used extensively in industries ranging from aerospace to the makers of medical equipment. Its high speed and versatility make it ideal for the job of producing specialised parts.

In recent years, however, CNC machines have to some extent stolen the limelight from manual milling. There’s no doubt that laser cutting using computer numerical control is fast and efficient; but does that mean it’s the end of the line for manual machines? Here at TK Fabrications we’re confident that the answer is no. Read on if you’d like to discover the reasons why.

What is manual milling?

Precision Machining

Manual milling machines take various forms, depending on the kind of work to be carried out. The most common type of milling machine consists of a static cutting tool and a moveable table. The cutting tool is the key element, and again, the type of cutter you use will depend on the job. The table is manually moved to guide the blade to where the cuts need to be made. Other machines include lathes and drill presses, which are also used to make parts for manufacturing.

What is laser cutting?

Laser cutting is a similar process, but here the cutting tool is in the form of a laser. In this process the material is effectively melted rather than drilled or cut. A pattern is typically uploaded digitally and the cutting is controlled by computer. This makes CNC machining ideal for complex designs, where precision is even more critical.

The pros and cons of laser cutting

Laser cutting tends to be a very streamlined process, and has a number of advantages. As well as speed and accuracy, less of the material being cut is affected by heat. This reduces the risk of warping, which is another reason laser cutting can be so precise.

The process can be costly, however, particularly in the case of prototypes or one-off components. The machinery itself is expensive to buy, and if peripheral equipment is needed, it can sometimes mean additional expenses. Moreover, laser equipment generally consumes a lot more energy than conventional manual equipment.

The benefits of a manual milling machine

There are a number of advantages from the use of a manual milling machine. While it can match laser cutting in terms of accuracy and precision, the turnaround is often much quicker. Our skilled engineers use manual machinery to provide bespoke components in a range of materials, including plastic and composite. This makes the process the ideal cost-effective solution for one-off prototypes and small batches of parts.

Our experienced manual operators achieve flawless results at an affordable price. The versatility of our manual machinery means we can speedily create components precisely to customers’ requirements. For more information or some helpful advice on a project, why not get in contact with us today?