Statement of problem Although new materials are available for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM) fabrication, limited information is available regarding their machinability. The depth of penetration of a milling tool into a material during a timed milling cycle may indicate its machinability. Purpose The purpose of this in vitro study was to compare the tool penetration rate for 2 polymer-containing CAD-CAM materials (Lava Ultimate and Enamic) and 2 ceramic-based CAD-CAM materials (e.max CAD and Celtra Duo). Material and methods The materials were sectioned into 4-mm-thick specimens (n=5/material) and polished with 320-grit SiC paper. Each specimen was loaded into a custom milling apparatus. The apparatus pushed the specimens against a milling tool (E4D Tapered 2016000) rotating at 40 000 RPM with a constant force of 0.98 N. After a 6-minute timed milling cycle, the length of each milling cut was measured with image analysis software under a digital light microscope. Representative specimens and milling tools were examined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy. Results The penetration rate of Lava Ultimate (3.21 ±0.46 mm/min) and Enamic (2.53 ±0.57 mm/min) was significantly greater than that of e.max CAD (1.12 ±0.32 mm/min) or Celtra Duo (0.80 ±0.21 mm/min) materials. SEM observations showed little tool damage, regardless of material type. Residual material was found on the tools used with polymer-containing materials, and wear of the embedding medium was seen on the tools used with the ceramic-based materials. Edge chipping was noted on cuts made in the ceramic-based materials. Conclusions Lava Ultimate and Enamic have greater machinability and less edge chipping than e.max CAD and Celtra Duo.