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Face Milling vs. End Milling: Which is Better for Your Project?

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Milling process is very important in a manufacturing industry to produce accurate milling for structure and integrity removal of materials on its surface. Face milling and end milling are two of the popular methods employed in a variety of CNC Milling techniques. The right choice in milling techniques is key to effective results and production. In this post, we explore the primary differences between face milling and end milling to determine which method is best suited for your project.

Face Milling vs. End Milling

Understanding Face Milling

What is face milling?

Face milling is a metalworking process which is used to cut flat surfaces or faces, generally by using face mill cutter. The operation is inherently rotational, with the face mill cutter providing multiple cutting edges on the cylindrical body or periphery. To understand this type of cut better, imagine the cutting edges on a milling cutter are slicing through the workpiece material in two parallel motions relative to one another.

The face milling process

Face milling process The workpiece is generally clamped on the machine tool, either a milling machine or machining center according to type, where face mills cutter is installed and then rotates via the spindle. The cutter and the piece of work are correctly adjusted, where after the desired depth of cut would be set on the cutter. As the cutter’s face (usually with a large number of blades) rotates along a horizontal axis, the cutting edges on the as-cutter-face bottom remove material from the workpiece surface to produce a flat surface area or face.

Tools and Equipment Used

Several milling tools and machinery are used in the material removal technique of face milling. The primary tool is a face mill cutter in various different face mill configurations for different workpiece size and material.MaterialsFace mill cutters are usually made of high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide, and are similar to fly cutters on your boring heads with reliable inserts for spares. HSS Face Mill Cutters,HSS Roughing End MillsManufacturersRecommended operating speeds depend on the specific cutting tool manufacturer’s recommendations based upon a material’s tensile strength.

A machining center or milling machine may be used to face mill the workpiece into a program controlled shape. This machine is equipped with a spindle that rotates the face mill cutter and a table or fixture, which holds the workpiece securely into place. Milling machines are either manually operated (for simple parts) or computer numerically controlled (CNC) for complex and/or high precision parts.

Moreover, different workholding tools such as vises, clamps or fixtures clamp the workpiece during milling.The use of cutting fluids or coolants may also be common when dissipation of heat is needed, surface finish and tool life are affected. Safety goggles, gloves and clothing are important attires that anyone operating a milling machine cannot do without.

Advantages of Face Milling

-High surface finish accomplished.

-This method can achieve high material removal rates and is faster because it removes very large amounts of materials within a short time.

-High feed rate.

-Both hard as well as soft material machining.

Inhibits vibrations and stabilizes the footing.

Disadvantages of Face milling

-Acquisition price of equipment is higher.

-Insert end mills are one tip, face mills have multiple inserts or tips increasing the cost vs that of an end mill.

-Limited to complex surfacing or small features in parts.

-You can’t cut really deep.

-The heat produced during face milling can change the surface finish and dimensional accuracy of the workpiece, particularly if efficient cooling arrangements are not made.


Typical Applications of Face Milling

Surface Finishing

  • Goal: The interesting thing is you can print as high quality a surface finish as you want.
  • End-Use Industry: Often used in the final steps of the manufacturing process of components that are needed to have meticulous surface qualities, such as machine parts, automotive and aerospace components.


Material Removal

  • Objective: Remove a massive amount of material in an already quick process.
  • Commonly used for:It is mostly employed in roughing processes as it establishes an axis which will be followed by other machining operations.


Creating Flat Surfaces

  • Goal: To create flat and parallel surfaces on the workpiece.
  • Application: Used to create mating surfaces for assembly, like in production of engine blocks,molds and transmission housings.


Step Milling

  • Goal: Processes to generate steps or shoulders on workpiece
  • Usage: Suitable for the manufacture of parts with different thicknesses or stepped features, such as brackets, flanges and structural components.


Slot Milling

  • Purpose: To make grooves or slots in a component.
  • Application: For creating keyways, grooves for O-rings and other features that require slotting.


Profile Milling

  • Specific aim: Machining of complicated contours and shapes.
  • Typically found is producing detailed geometries on parts use in the aerospace, automotive and medical industry.



  • Goal: Refresh worn or damaged surfaces.
  • Application: Used frequently for repairing and maintaining flat surfaces in machine beds, fixtures and jigs.
Face Milling

Understanding End Milling

What is end milling

End milling is a fundamental type of cutting.Cutting utilizes a revolving wheel with blades, an end mill, to get rid of material from the opposite comes in. Unlike many other types of milling operations, the end mill can be precisely customized to the diameter and depth to ensure precise cuts with proper shape. The process is extremely flexible able to produce a number of geometries such as slots, contours and complex profiles.

The End Milling Process

The first step is to clamp the workpiece to stabilize it when machining. Then, the machining starts by advancing the end mill into the first point of the cut. Material is removed while the cutter is rotating and advancing along the path programmed in the tool, which may comprise the shape of a straight line, curve, or complex form.

Tools and Equipment Used

What makes an end mill cutter is characterized by the most essential feature, the end mill itself. It is a form of milling cutter with cutting teeth on its face and its periphery. This tool comes in various sizes and geometries.

End milling is achieved most commonly by using a particular type of milling machine that imparts the cutting tool with the required rotary motion, and the balance of the operation ensues with the guiding of the workpiece to the cutting tool.

Workholding devices clamp the positioned workpiece firmly and apply clamping force against the table to machine away material.

Other functions of the cooling and lubricating fluids include improvement of tool life as forces to cutting are reduced and improvement of the surface finish of the work material, including chips.

Advantages of End Milling

– Machine 3D complicated shapes with contours and cavities.

– Undercuts and machining deep groove features, threads, and complicated contours.

– From 0.1 mm for micro sizes to above 100 mm for heavy rough machining.

– Comes in different angles and directions.

– A greater radial depth of cut than diameter is possible.

Disadvantages of End Milling

 – Less material removal rates.

-Machining is performed in deep cavities by long-end mills, which produce high tool overhang and, subsequently, risk deformation or chatter.

-Interrupted cutting by an end milling (chips are generated over the whole tool circumference) therefore speeds up tool wear.

– It is hard to cut into the workpiece within an easy-cutting limit.

-The long, deep cavities may trap the chips and, in turn consume the tool.

Typical Applications of End Milling

-More complex cavity details involving cores and cavity inserts; it also incorporates the need for slides and lifters within the parts due to 3D contoured surfaces.

-Special alloys for major aerospace components: turbine blades, impellers, blisks, and structural parts.

– Orthopedic implants, surgical instruments, and dental products are usually designed using complex shapes and cavities.

– End mills are used for the machining of shafts, sleeves, levers, and pulleys to provide keyways, axial and circumferential grooves, profiles, etc.

Key Differences Between Face Milling vs. End Milling

Aspect Face Milling End Milling
Cutting Techniques Utilizes a face mill cutter with cutting edges arranged on its cylindrical body or periphery. The cutter rotates and removes material in a parallel motion relative to the workpiece surface. Employs an end mill cutter with cutting edges on its end face. The cutter rotates and removes material in a perpendicular motion relative to the workpiece surface.
Surface Finish and Accuracy Capable of achieving a higher surface finish quality and dimensional accuracy due to the multi-edged cutting head of the face mill cutter. Generally produces a lower surface finish quality compared to face milling, but can achieve higher accuracy in specific applications.
Material Removal Rates Typically offers higher material removal rates, making it more efficient for larger volume material removal. Lower material removal rates compared to face milling, but more suitable for intricate and complex geometries.
Cost and Efficiency More cost-effective for larger volume material removal due to higher material removal rates and longer tool life. Can be more cost-effective for smaller volume or specialized applications, but may require more frequent tool changes.


This article explains the way of face milling and end milling. The proper release of the way of milling influences the quality of the part and the cycle of processing. We, the team of EASIAHOME, are professionals in CNC technology, mainly in areas concerned with the manufacture of CNC parts in advising the best decisions for the proper method of milling your parts.

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