Milling is one of the most common machining processes available. It can be used to machine a wide variety of materials such as metal, wood, and plastics, but the best milling machine for a particular project depends on the complexity and requirements of the specific design.
There are two basic types of milling centers – vertical and horizontal – that vary significantly in their capabilities due to their orientation. Many machine shops possess only one type of machine, but at Ardel Engineering, we work with both vertical and horizontal milling equipment, helping us meet all of our client’s needs. The versatility we gain from using both machine orientations allows us to create parts in any shape, feature, or volume.
As the name suggests, a vertical milling machine features a vertical spindle axis. There are two common types of vertical mills. With the first type—the bed mill—material is placed on a bed that can be moved back and forth horizontally, while the cutter attached to the spindle can be guided up and down. The other type—the turret mill—includes a fixed spindle and a bed that moves both vertically and horizontally to position the material.
The mechanisms that underlie vertical milling make it particularly useful for drilling and plunging cuts. In fact, the motion of the machine is often reminiscent of a standard drill press.
Vertical milling offers the following benefits:
Vertical milling machines provide users with increased visibility due to the openness provided by the orientation. This can be useful on slower projects that require special attention to detail.
Since vertical milling is widely used in machine shops, the machines themselves are more easily available and cost significantly less than their horizontal counterparts.
CNC controls for vertical milling machines are very user friendly, and the widespread usage of the machines means that appropriately skilled labor is easier to find. The work done on vertical milling machines is also generally straightforward and doesn’t require any special fixtures.
CNC vertical milling machines ensure accurate cuts, reducing the risk of human error found in manual machines.
Whereas a vertical milling machine is similar to a drill press, the cutting tool of a horizontal milling machine is more like a circular saw. Horizontal milling centers come with a number of available customizations such as multiple cutters or rotating universal beds that let users cut at various angles instead of just horizontally. Using a horizontal mill is comparable to using several machine tools at once.
Horizontal milling offers the following benefits:
Horizontal milling machines cut faster and, depending on the machine, can make multiple cuts simultaneously. Chips can also be removed more quickly when pocketing and facing.
Because of the increased speed and precision, horizontal milling machines are ideal for lengthy or large production runs.
Horizontal milling machines are built to last. Their size and durable construction enables them to handle larger and heavier materials without risking damage to the machine.
CNC horizontal milling machines also reduce the risk of human error by providing precise computer-controlled cuts and tight geometric tolerances.
As you can see, both machines have certain advantages and disadvantages that directly relatto the specific design and material being machined. Having both types of machines on hand gives Ardel Engineering the ability to handle any design for you.
Ardel Engineering specializes in precision turning and milling, and we don’t disappoint. With 23 different milling centers in operation, you can be sure we have the equipment and capacity you need to bring your design to life. We also offer a wide range of other machining services to meet your production goals from beginning to end, including grinding and honing, deburring, part making, sawing, and drilling. We also have partners on call to provide painting, plating, welding, or heat treating services as needed.
To learn more about vertical and horizontal milling, or how any of our machining and other value-added services can help make your design a reality, please don’t hesitate to request a quote or contact us.