Main Features of the CNC Milling Machine

A milling machine is a type of machine tool for machining solid materials. There are two basic shapes of this type of machine: horizontal and vertical, derived from the axial direction of the cutting tool.

Unlike a drill press, where the work piece is fixed and the drill moves up and down to give way to the material, milling also involves movement of the work piece adjacent to the rotating cutter, but it is possible to cut to the sides along with the tip. The movement of the work piece and cutter is precisely controlled by a precision grinding guide way or similar technology, usually in conjunction with a spindle. VMC850 milling machine can be manually operated, mechanically automated, or digitally automated with computer numerical control (CNC).

Most CNC milling machines were controlled by computerized vertical milling machines with the ability to move the spindle vertically along with the Z-axis. This enabled 2.5-dimensional curved surface expressions such as die cutting, engraving, and relief. Combined with conical tools or ball nose end mills, the CNC machine improves machining accuracy without affecting machining speed and provides a cost-effective alternative to manual flat engraving.

CNC machines have the ability to outperform most manual machines, such as horizontal milling machines. Multi-axis machines are the most advanced features of CNC milling machines, adding two or more axes to the usual three axes of XYZ.

Horizontal milling machines also have a C-axis or Q-axis, which can rotate a horizontally mounted workpiece, essentially allowing asymmetrical machining along with eccentric turning; the B-axis or fifth axis manages tool tilt by itself; and the C-axis or Q-axis is a “tilt” axis that can be used to rotate the workpiece.

If all axes are linked together, very complex geometries can be easily realized. However, the ability to program complex geometries is beyond the capabilities of most operators. Therefore, 5-axis milling machines are always programmed with CAM.

Types of Milling Machines and Basic Parts

* Box or column-type milling cutters – very basic machines with bench-mounted spindles that move up and down the column or boxway.

* Turret or vertical cylindrical milling cutter – usually called a Bridgeport type, which allows the spindle to be adjusted to various positions.

* Knee mill or knee-and-column mill: refers to a machine that moves the line up and down on a vertical knee with an adjustable X-Y table.

* C-frame mill – has a knee and a fixed spindle head that moves only vertically.

* Brush-type mills – are large mills with the milling spindle in the same location as the planning head as well as the brush.

* Floor mills – contain a row of rotary tables, along with horizontal spindles fixed to a set of rails running parallel to the top of the row of tables. These mills are primarily computer numerically controlled.

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