Like many businesses, supply chain problems have been disrupting operations for many months now. Most OEMs are having a tough time getting component parts from their CNC machine shops & metal fabrication shops. However, Aerospace Metals has an abundant supply of these shops to keep your manufacturing operations running smoothly.  

I’d like to begin my 2022 monthly blog with some basic terminology: CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that normally requires computerized controls and machine tools to remove layers of material from a stock piece—known as the blank or workpiece. The end result is a custom-designed part. 

This process works well for a range of materials, including glass, metals, plastics, wood, foam, and composite materials. There are many applications in a variety of industries, for example in 

  • Large CNC machining operations;
  • Machining of parts and prototypes for the telecommunications industry; and 
  • CNC machining of aerospace parts, which require tighter tolerances than other industries. 

A CNC machine is programmable and it’s capable of performing the operations of CNC machining without human interaction. The origins of this machine came from the numerical control (NC) machining process that used punched tape cards. 

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes computerized controls to operate and manipulate machine and cutting tools to shape stock material like wood, metal, foam, plastic, composite to name a few—into custom parts and designs. The basic CNC machining process involves:

  1. Designing the CAD model
  2. Converting CAD files to a CNC program
  3. Configuring and preparing the CNC machine
  4. Completing the machining operation to exacting specifications

Examples of CNC Machining Operations

CNC machining is used a wide variety of industries, including construction, automotive, aerospace, and farming. Automobile frames, surgical devices and equipment, airplane engines, and gears are all examples of products manufactured using this process. 

It involves several different computer-controlled machining operations: mechanical, chemical, electrical, and thermal processes to remove the necessary material from the stock piece to produce a custom-designed part or product. While chemical, electrical, and thermal machining processes are covered in a later section, this section explores some of the most common mechanical CNC machining operations including:

  • Drilling
  • Milling
  • Turning

One particular feature of Aerospace Metals capabilities that many of our competitors cannot match is our Horizontal Machine Capacity.  We not only have this, but it’s available through local channels, avoiding the supply chain problems that come with ordering this service from overseas vendors. 

There are actually several different types of milling machines that can be used to help you complete your next project. Two of those types are vertical mills and horizontal mills. Vertical and horizontal mills are useful options for a range of industries. Aerospace Metals makes a point to explain the different options available to you up front, and we recommend the best option for your application. By understanding which option is better for your business or project, the risk of costly errors is minimized or eliminated completely. Our customer-focused evaluation and recommendation process also equips you with the best choices possible to get the job done right the first time.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Milling

The primary difference between vertical and horizontal milling machines is how the spindle axis moves — either from side to side or up and down. Both machines have benefits but the choice between the two often boils down to the specific requirements of your application, your budget, and the project timeline. It’s worth mentioning that the type of machine you choose doesn’t necessarily limit the types of projects you can complete. In many cases, you can use either a vertical or horizontal milling machine for your project-related tasks, as long as you know the correct operating techniques or add-on parts required.

On a horizontal mill, the spindle runs parallel to the ground, and uses slightly smaller and thicker cutting heads to press against the workpiece to remove material. Unlike vertical milling machines, you do not have a direct line of visibility as the machine cuts. Our horizontal milling machines with universal tables can help you cut your piece at various angles.

Horizontal mills are often used on projects like:

  1. Groove cutting
  2. Slot cutting
  3. Gear cutting
  4. Side-oriented detail work
  5. Projects with multiple sides that require cutting
  6. Projects that require large, heavy or bulky materials


Advantages of Horizontal Milling Machines

Although they’re not as common, horizontal milling machines can be just as useful as vertical ones, depending on your needs. There are several benefits of horizontal milling machines including:

Capability: Horizontal milling machines have a larger capacity than vertical milling machines. They’re capable of handling large, bulky or heavy materials with ease, and can make deeper cuts. They are also useful for complex or multi-sided projects.

Durability: Because they handle more cumbersome materials, horizontal milling machines are durable and long-lasting. 

Speed: If you need high output and a quick turnaround time, a horizontal milling machine is your best choice. It can cut faster than a vertical mill, and it’s capable of making more than one cut at a time. This speed comes at no sacrifice to precision. These machines are a powerful tool for detailed or long-running projects.

CNC milling machinery is ideal for the medical, marine, aerospace, transportation, electronics, oil and gas and military and defense industries. When combined with CNC technology, vertical or horizontal milling machines will save time and produce high-quality products.

Aerospace Metals has high-speed turret/lasers that can provide efficient automated loading and unloading with unmatched quality.

  • Minimal part handling = less labor expenses
  • Unlimited laser shape cutting capabilities
  • High-speed CNC turret punching
  • Automated cells
  • 0.25″ x 50″ x 144″ capacity
  • Stamping presses to 90 tons

Our horizontal machining centers consist of 400mm to 500mm, two-pallet machines with 40 to 50-taper tooling. We have ample capacity for heavy-duty cutting. All our machines are equipped with tombstones to facilitate multiple-part holding. Other features include:

  • Up to 1000 PSI through-spindle coolant
  • Spindle RPMs up to 10,000 to 15,000 RPMs
  • 26″ cube machining capacity
  • Feed rates up to 1500 inches/minute
  • Tool management software
  • Complete coolant management with biodegradable food-grade coolant

Facing global supply chain issues, many OEMs are losing sales because they can’t get component parts from their suppliers.  Aerospace Metals has a large network of CNC Machine Shops & Metal Fabrication Shops to provide the materials needed to get jobs done quickly and cost-effectively. They are qualified and vetted with quality control programs like ISO systems.  

Aerospace Metals also offers a wealth of experience in metal finishing and plating, which are subsequent processes to CNC Machining and Metal Fabrication.  Because of that we can offer component parts complete or manufactured and plated or anodized.  

For more information on our custom manufacturing services and equipment, visit our website at to find out how we can help your business grow.