Micro-end milling is used for manufacturing of complex miniaturized components precisely in wide range of materials. It is important to predict cutting forces accurately as it plays vital role in controlling tool and workpiece deflections as well as tool wear and breakage. The present study attempts to incorporate process characteristics such as edge radius of cutting tool, effective rake and clearance angles, minimum chip thickness, and elastic recovery of work material collectively while predicting cutting forces using mechanistic model. To incorporate these process characteristics effectively, it is proposed to divide cutting zone into two regions: shearing- and ploughing-dominant regions. The methodology estimates cutting forces in each partitioned zone separately and then combines the same to obtain total cutting force at a given cutter rotation angle. The results of proposed model are validated by performing machining experiments over a wide range of cutting conditions. The paper also highlights the importance of incorporating elastic recovery of work material and effective rake and clearance angle while predicting cutting forces. It has been observed that the proposed methodology predicts the magnitude and profile of cutting forces accurately for micro-end milling operation. © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.