The CNC technology enables 3D milling that makes it possible to generate complex 3D contours. Frequently, the workpiece is traced in many small adjacent rows. Characteristic data of a milling machine are the working space coordinates, that means, which traverse in the coordinates X, Y and Z are possible, which drive power and speed ranges, and which are available. In the division of the production process according to DIN 8580, milling is a separation process.

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When CNC milling up to 5-axis machines can be programmed via a machine control. The axes are controlled individually or simultaneously with feed rates. The process routes are measured by glass measuring strips. A distinction is made between incremental and direct-position-measurement-systems. CNC milling machines run with partially extreme feed rates of 100 m / min and spindle speeds of 100,000 m / min, but the values are usually considerably lower. The tools are stored in a tool-changing magazine, called automatically when needed and is replaced by a tool changer.