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

CNC Systems NF series Vision Wide bridge machining center

Bridge-Type Machines Offer Fully Automatic Five-Face Machining

Designed for moldmaking applications, the SF and NF series Vision Wide bridge machining centers available from CNC Systems both offer fully automatic five-face machining. ...MORE

OKK HMC400 horizontal machining center

HMC with Lightweight Column Promotes Rigidity

OKK’s HMC400 horizontal machining center is designed for high-speed machining with a lightweight column featuring a rigid, stepped-X-axis rail design. ...MORE

Suhner single-tool Multi-Master flex shaft machining units

Machining Units Accommodate Bulky Workpieces

Suhner offers single-tool Multi-Master flex shaft machining units that can be positioned in any direction around a workpiece. ...MORE

Fives Cincinnati modular Precision Mill/Trim five-axis gantry machine tool

Vertical Gantry Mill for Large, Nonferrous Components

Fives Cincinnati’s modular Precision Mill/Trim (PMT) five-axis gantry machine tool is designed for high-speed multiprocessing of large nonferrous components such as composite structures, aluminum skins, molds and patterns. ...MORE

Sharp Industris SV-2414 boxway mini mill

Mini VMC Resists Heat Generation

Sharp Industries offers its SV-2414 boxway mini mill with X-, Y- and Z-axis travels measuring 23.6" × 15.7" × 18.1". ...MORE

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