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

KMH Series Horizontal Machining Centers Offer an Integrated Full Rotary B Axis

Methods Machine Tools Inc. has expanded its line of KIWA HMCs. ...MORE

The Foundry's Way Forward

An established supplier of short-run castings just opened and staffed a new, fully equipped, in-house CNC machine shop. Taking ownership of machining will improve the company’s range of services to customers as well as its quality control. ...MORE

Methods Machine Tools Twin RoboDrill JobShop Cell

Robot-Tended VMC Cell Changes Multiple Workpieces Simultaneously

Available from Methods Machine Tools, the Twin RoboDrill JobShop Cell features two FANUC D21 RoboDrill vertical machining centers serviced by a single articulating FANUC LR Mate 200iD robot. ...MORE

Spotlight Slideshow: Machining Centers

Automatic pallet changers and support for automation are some popular features of recently released machining centers. View the December slideshow for more on these machines. ...MORE

DMG MORI NHX 4000 2nd Generation horizontal machining center

December 2014 Product Spotlight Slideshow: Machining Centers

View the December slideshow to see some of the latest vertical, horizontal and five-axis machining centers. ...MORE

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