Zone: Machining Centers & Milling Machines

OVERVIEW: The term “machining center” describes almost any CNC milling and drilling machine that includes an automatic toolchanger and a table that clamps the workpiece in place. On a machining center (as contrasted with a turning machine), the tool rotates, but the work does not. The most basic variety of this type of machine is also the most basic CNC machine tool—a vertical machining center. While vertical machining centers can be high-end machines because of their precision and/or their size, a small and simple vertical machining center is a relatively low-cost CNC machine tool that often represents a new machine shop’s first machine tool purchase. The orientation of the spindle is the most fundamental defining characteristic of a machining center. Vertical machining centers and horizontal machining centers have (obviously) vertically and horizontally oriented spindles. Vertical machines generally favor precision while horizontal machines generally favor production—but these generalizations are loose, and plenty of machines break out of them. Other choices in machining center orientation include the universal machining center, which can change between vertical and horizontal spindle arrangement. More common than this is the five-axis machining center, which adds rotary motion to the machine’s linear motion. The machine pivots the tool and/or the part not only to mill and drill at various angles, but also to mill swept surfaces. Machining centers linked by an automated pallet system can form an automated machining cell. Such a cell can machine a queue of different parts without operator attention by shuttling the parts in and out of the various machines as appropriate. Related machines in this category include the boring mill, which generally describes a large machine for heavy and/or precise milling and hole making. Another related machine is the manual milling machine. Such a machine may have some basic programmability, but it generally lacks an automatic toolchanger, meaning the tool change is a manual step.

Featured Zone Content

Beyond Secondaries: Vertical Machining Center Enhances OEM's Capability

Like many turning based shops, Clippard Instrument Laboratory first applied vertical machining centers to perform secondary operations on its screw machined parts. That view has changed for the better. ...MORE

Toyoda FH630SX-I HMC

HMC Enables Aggressive Cutting of Large Workpieces

The FH630SX-I horizontal machining center from Toyoda Machinery USA is a 630-mm-sized linear guideway machine that offers a standard 8,000-rpm spindle providing 37 kW (1,009 Nm) of torque and features dual ballscrews on the Y and Z axes. ...MORE

SW North America BA 322 HMC

Two-Spindle HMC for Four- and Five-Axis Machining

SW North America’s BA 322 is a compact, twin-spindle horizontal machining center designed for four- or five-axis machining of small to medium-sized steel, cast iron and light-metal workpieces. ...MORE

VMC Enables Lean Small-Part Production

Enshu USA’s GE300Ve vertical machining center is specifically designed for efficient production of small parts in a lean line. ...MORE

A Case Study in Craftsmanship

With some 300 models of machine tools on offer, and new technologies such as the i5 CNC control now on the market, SMTCL is showing aggressive—and impressive—growth. ...MORE

DMG MORI NHX 4000 2nd Generation HMC

Second-Generation HMCs Optimized for Shorter Tools

DMG MORI’s NHX 4000 2nd Generation and NHX 5000 2nd Generation horizontal machining centers are said to be suitable for single-part manufacturing ranging to serial production. ...MORE

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