What's new
What's new

CNC lathe or CNC Mill your biggest money maker

cgrim3

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Location
Baltimore
The question:

Do you make more money off of your CNC turning center(s) or CNC mill(s), whether it be 3, 4, or 5 axis mill?

For our particular shop, we do far more lathe work than mill work, so we make a lot more money off of our lathe. Of course there are second, third, and fourth ops on the mill after the lathe, but the majority of our work is lathe work.

I imagine there are far more mill shops than lathe shops.

Any thoughts?


Chris
 

Bobw

Diamond
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Location
Hatch, NM Chile capital of the WORLD
Mills by far..

I was bringing rectangular bar stock to length the other day on the lathe because the mills are so backed up.

My lathe makes me money, but it usually rips through its work, and then it sits.
 

cgrim3

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Location
Baltimore
Mills by far..

I was bringing rectangular bar stock to length the other day on the lathe because the mills are so backed up.

My lathe makes me money, but it usually rips through its work, and then it sits.


I wish we did some more millwork to mix it up but hey, work is work right and we are always super busy. All our parts are used in high speed rotating centrifuge machines so by design, it is all lathe work. Some of it can get complicated. One of the parts we make is a 10" diameter x 6" long and the other is 10" diameter x 4" long forging of inconel 625 that we turn. After preliminary lathe work, the parts then go to conforma-clad (i.e. Kennametal) to get a furnace fused layer of tungsten carbide wear resistant coating. Then we finish the lathe work on the parts after they come back from conformaclad. Then the parts are sent out for RAM edm to burn through the tungsten carbide coating and are drilled and tapped. Then they came back to us and we assemble the two halves with like 50 tungsten carbide pins.

Some of the lathe work is fun but I wouldn't mind dabbling in more mill work
 

DouglasJRizzo

Titanium
Joined
Jun 7, 2011
Location
Ramsey, NJ.
The question:

Do you make more money off of your CNC turning center(s) or CNC mill(s), whether it be 3, 4, or 5 axis mill?

For our particular shop, we do far more lathe work than mill work, so we make a lot more money off of our lathe. Of course there are second, third, and fourth ops on the mill after the lathe, but the majority of our work is lathe work.

I imagine there are far more mill shops than lathe shops.

Any thoughts?


Chris

Generally, there's more milling work than turning. With that said, in my shop, the mill(s) see more of the high dollar work, but the lathes are more efficient and crank out parts faster.

You're correct, tho, there are more milling shops than turning shops.
 

TeachMePlease

Diamond
Joined
Feb 11, 2014
Location
FL
I'm mill only right now, but it seems Swiss is in high demand, especially if you have your ISO certifications to make medical parts.

giphy.gif
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Mills have been the most labor for least value added in my shop.

Large diameter/high HP lathe and large stamping press are by far the most profitable for me.

Stamping press takes $20 in material and turns it into a $600 part in one hit.

Do that 22 times a minute with your CNC mill.
 

cgrim3

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 4, 2020
Location
Baltimore
Mills have been the most labor for least value added in my shop.

Large diameter/high HP lathe and large stamping press are by far the most profitable for me.

Stamping press takes $20 in material and turns it into a $600 part in one hit.

Do that 22 times a minute with your CNC mill.


We kind of experience the same thing. With the lathe, the setups aren't as complex and the programming is easier and we still charge the same amount per hour as the mill. Usually work with 10-14" diameter stainless but also smaller stuff. More of a money maker for our shop but like other people said, sometimes you can get some high end mill work that pays really well, like a mold we recently did for a major defense contractor. Regardless, the lathe makes us more money.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Your customers are giving you a die to run and you’re charging them $600/part?

No. I make the tools. I sell the parts to end user.

It's not like the presses run all the time and there's plenty of $5 parts made in them too, but forming shapes from sheet material can be drastically more lucrative than cutting away everything that isn't the part from solid.
 

wheelieking71

Diamond
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Location
Gilbert, AZ
Loaded question. I have had two very wealthy guys both tell me in person (and read, and said countless times on this forum):
"Its not how much money you can make, its how much you can keep".
I "make" way more money with my mills. But, my lathe is by far the most profitable iron in my shop.

I really should fire it up more often! :rolleyes5:
 

Mike1974

Diamond
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Location
Tampa area
I'd say considering our finished products (milled bodies, pcb, electronic connectors, etc) are mostly milled and lab work, and adding #6 mill recently and 2 more on the way... mill work by a long shot.
 

Shawnrs

Stainless
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
I would say our horizontals that run light out and our lathes with bar feeders make the most for us.
 

cnctoolcat

Titanium
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Location
Abingdon, VA
In general is costs a helluva lot more to tool and workhold a CNC mill than it does a CNC lathe.

It takes a lot longer to train a mill hand than a lathe hand as well.

We’re primarily a lathe shop, so that’s where our dollars come from. I’m glad too, as I prefer lathe work.

Mill work is fun, it’s generally more challenging, but for the hours invested we can’t make as much running the mills as we do the lathes.

Quoting lathe work is more straight forward as well. It seems most shops are within a fairly narrow price range on lathe work, whereas with mill work pricing is all over the map.

ToolCat
 

Bobw

Diamond
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Location
Hatch, NM Chile capital of the WORLD
It seems most shops are within a fairly narrow price range on lathe work, whereas with mill work pricing is all over the map.

ToolCat

My guess is that EVERYBODY knows how to use a carbide insert on a lathe, but not everybody knows how
to use a carbide endmill in a mill. You even see it here when a newb shows up asking how to do
something, and his boss was kind enough to get him A new 1/2" HSS endmill to do the entire
job with. And when they do convince the boss to try carbide, they get A no-name square corner finisher
off of E-Bay.

Tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.
 

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
In general is costs a helluva lot more to tool and workhold a CNC mill than it does a CNC lathe.

It takes a lot longer to train a mill hand than a lathe hand as well.

We’re primarily a lathe shop, so that’s where our dollars come from. I’m glad too, as I prefer lathe work.

Mill work is fun, it’s generally more challenging, but for the hours invested we can’t make as much running the mills as we do the lathes.

Quoting lathe work is more straight forward as well. It seems most shops are within a fairly narrow price range on lathe work, whereas with mill work pricing is all over the map.

ToolCat


IDK ...

I likely have more $ worth of live holders for any one of my lathes than I doo tool holding and part holding for all of my mills together....

All 'pends on your vantage point I guess....




edit:

Well, I guess that pic doesn't show live toys, but I am not sure how to delete that pic from the post without deleting the whole post, so I guess I'm leaving it there....
That shows part (1 side of 1 turret) of the set-up for bolt carriers tho.


--------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2088.jpg
    IMG_2088.jpg
    96.6 KB · Views: 333

cnctoolcat

Titanium
Joined
Sep 18, 2006
Location
Abingdon, VA
Good point Ox!

However, the argument could be made that expensive live-tool holders for lathes actually count as mill tooling, since they’re only doing mill work?

So maybe I should modify my hypothesis? Instead of claiming it costs more to tool up a mill, how about it costs more to tool up for milling work? [emoji2371][emoji854]


ToolCat
 

cameraman

Diamond
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
The question:

Do you make more money off of your CNC turning center(s) or CNC mill(s), whether it be 3, 4, or 5 axis mill?

For our particular shop, we do far more lathe work than mill work, so we make a lot more money off of our lathe. Of course there are second, third, and fourth ops on the mill after the lathe, but the majority of our work is lathe work.

I imagine there are far more mill shops than lathe shops.

Any thoughts?


Chris

In on the - turning + 3, 4, 5 axis milling

+
"Of course there are, second, third and fourth ops on the mill after the lathe, - but - the majority of our work is lathe work "

Just wondering about those shops that tend to specialize using B-axis mill turn machines ? How they are making out / charging in the job-shop environment ?

Key point being on some more complex parts where critical milled and turned surfaces have to reference each-other pretty accurately (at least for one clamping) - concentricity and orthogonal (and other) alignment of milled, drilled and bored features. [On some parts depending on design "easy" to set up on precision "V" blocks and fixtures on a mill for 2nd, 3rd, 4th ops etc. but a lot of parts basic geometry don't always allow for that + being a slow process requiring quite a bit of skill and care to re-locate critical alignments.]. Not necessarily great for so called 'High" mix -low volume; can't really comment on how that relates to higher volume production.

$80 "Shop rate" up to "Peeps" who are able to charge close to $350++ / hour for (I guess for 5 axis mold work??? ) - (depending on parts' tolerances and precision referenced features / "form tolerances" - where B-axis mill turn fits into that ?

Seems that some shops that get into that and specialize in those types of parts seem to do pretty well < massive generalization for a smaller segment of the market >
 

metalmadness

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 25, 2015
At the end of the day IMO the Milling Machine is always going to be the prominent cash cow for most machines. Why? Complexity. You can make some pretty complex parts on a standard lathe, sure. But in any component the actual complexity is going to come down to the milled features. Milling is just infinitely more complex a process than turning. This is the reason why B axis head lathes with live tooling and a Y axis are so popular! Things like the Mazak Integrex and Doosan Puma are huge money makers for a lot of companies because you can do one-shot machining without operator handling.

5-axis mills may or may not make a company money. Probably a lot of companies who bought into the 5-axis hype have lost a ton of money because they don't know how to harness them. They can be cash cows too! You have to have parts for them and you need to optimize them.

To the flip side, many company's back bone or bread and butter dollars come from large batch lathe runs. Let's see...if you have a medium size turning center with a Y axis, live tooling and a bar feeder, and the parts that are suited to that, that thing just prints money. Day in day out, it prints money! If the process is dialed in, it prints money! This allows a company to take risks on machines like 5-axis or maybe a 4 axis horizontal. Maybe they get some aerospace contracts...those machines are financed through the bread and butter parts that that lathe cell is pushing out.

We have amortized our capital equipment costs across the spectrum. What I mean is that we have one single flat shop rate of $100/hour. Cheap parts are more expensive and expensive parts are cheaper on the whole with us. It is the same price if you need some crazy 5 axis stuff done, or if you just need simple turned parts made. It certainly helps us maintain consistency and the customers don't seem to mind. Some parts might cost more than another shop can do them for, but then some other parts might be a lot cheaper than another shop can do. Our complex 5-axis work is cheaper than our competitors for that reason.
 








 
Top