Milling Machine, the machine center

What’s the most versatile machining tool? If you answered: milling machine or mill, you’re correct. Though it’s not the only machine with a long list of capabilities, it’s ranked pretty high and can confidently be said to have initiated the machining industry. It is fast, efficient, and can produce all sizes and shapes with precision.

Simplified breakdown of the milling machine: a machine that holds and feeds material through a rotating cutter to produce a desired shape.

There are several classifications and methods of milling which are based on the placement of the axis and the location of the spindle and cutter attached to it. These include:

Classification:

  • Peripheral: The cutter is mounted on an axis that is parallel to the work piece surface to be machined. The milled surfaced is a result of the teeth located on the periphery of the cutter body.
  • Face milling: The cutter is mounted on an axis which rotates perpendicular to the work piece surface. The milled surface is the result of the cutting edges located on the periphery of the face of the cutter.
  • End milling: The cutter is mounted on an axis that is vertical to the work piece. The cutting teeth are found on both the end face and the periphery of the cutter body.

Methods:

  • Up milling: Direction of the cutter rotates in the opposite direction of the feed. Example, the cutter rotates clockwise, while the material is fed to the right. Hence, material is moving up the opposite way of the rotation.
  • Down milling: The cutter rotation and feed move in the same direction. Hence, the material moves down in the same direction as the cutter.

Milling machines have come a long way since their debut over one hundred years ago. With the advancements in technology, CNC, or computer controlled milling machines have the ability to produce more in less time, with less manual work. From switching out tools on its own, to controlling the speed and shape of multiple rotating axis, the milling machine has become a machining center. Every day different ideas are proposed and implemented to maintain the machining center’s ability to evolve with, and shape the world around us.

With so many functions, machining centers can be categorized further and named based on the application it was built to perform best.

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