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CNC Milling reaching new heights Advances in airplane construction technology means that passengers can now experience

flying in much lighter aircraft thanks to new designs using carbon fibre and titanium rather than the conventional aluminium and steel combination. Titanium is heavier than aluminium but it is much stronger and it is also as strong as but much lighter than steel. Titanium is corrosion resistant and its light weight, stability and heat resistant properties and strength make it an ideal metal for use in aircraft. These radical improvements in airplane design have increased the demand for titanium components and therefore also for the CNC milling of aircraft grade titanium. Making aircraft parts, that have webs and ribs, from titanium involves machining pockets. Milling machines are needed when machining solid metals like titanium. The process of milling produces a flat or precision-contoured surface on a workpiece using a tool that rotates. CNC Milling machines refer to milling machines that are digitally automated using Computer Numerical Control but they can also be manually or mechanically operated. Small CNC milling machines can be mounted on bench tops but they range in size to those that can fill a room. Small cnc mills are ideal for hobbyists whereas larger mills have industrial applications. Specialised proven techniques and slow cutting speeds are required when making titanium parts and roughing and finishing are important parts of the process. An essential tool for milling titanium productively has been described as an end mill with lots of flutes because the flutes allow the metal to be removed faster during the finishing process. CNC Machining Centre refers to basically any CNC milling and drilling machine and these can be either Vertical Machining Centres (VMC) or Horizontal Machining Centres (HMC). An automatic toolchanger and a table to clamp the workpiece in place make up the machining centre so that the tool rotates, but not the workpiece. The term VMC or HMC depends on the orientation of the spindle (main rotating axis). A general rule is that VMC are used for precision work while HMC are used for production but there are often exceptions to this rule. If there is a requirement to pivot the tool and/or the workpiece in order to mill and drill in a variety of directions of motion, a five-axis machining centre is used. When machining an aircraft part such as an airfoil it is preferable to keep the milling cutter perpendicular to the surface being machined. This may have to involve swivelling the milling cutter to produce the complex shape of the airfoil. Whichever machining centre is utilised, demand for these CNC machines is steadily increasing as the aircraft industry improves and develops its aircraft designs.