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

Enshu GE590H horizontal machining center

HMC Accurately Machines Large Parts

The GE590H, Enshu’s largest horizontal machining center, is designed for large-part applications that demand both high-volume metal removal as well as precision. ...MORE

SMTCL Americas VMC1100B

VMC Delivers High Rapid Traverse Rates

SMTCL Americas introduces its VMC1100B vertical machining center, which features a 12,000-rpm direct-drive spindle with 30-hp peak performance, 290-psi delivery of coolant through the spindle and a 24-position toolchanger. ...MORE

Sharptech Precision Machinery Super 1320

VMC Eliminates Backlash in Mold Production

Sharptech Precision Machinery’s Super 1320 vertical machining center is designed for mold processing. ...MORE

Methods Machine Tools KMH-300

Compact HMC Features Integrated Rotary B Axis

Methods Machine Tools offers the compact, direct-drive KMH-300 horizontal machining center as an addition to its Kiwa line. ...MORE

Mazak HCN-5000/50 HMC

Updated HMC Optimizes Performance for Heavy Parts Production

Mazak has redesigned its HCN-5000/50 horizontal machining center to include the Smooth Technology platform and Mazatrol SmoothG CNC, augmenting productivity and performance in heavy-parts production. ...MORE

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