How a milling machine works?

Milling machines were invented at the beginning of the 19th century, and today they become one of the most basic and main machines in the machining process. Today , thanks to numerical control, milling machines are the most versatile machines for machining, being able to perform a wide variety of different machining operations.

What is a milling machine?

milling machine is a machine or machine tool which, through the movement of a cutting tool called a “mill”, a piece is shaped through chip removal.

Through the milling process it is possible to machine parts of different materials such as wood , steel , cast iron , metal, among others.

Parts of a milling machine

The parts that make up a milling machine are:

  • Base
  • On/off button
  • Handwheel for movement on the x axis: Allows the piece to be moved in the x direction
  • Handwheel for movement on y-axis: Allows the piece to be moved in the y-direction
  • Handwheel for movement on the z axis: Allows the part to be moved in the z direction
  • Table: Part where the piece to be machined rests.
  • Column
  • Torpedo
  • Crank: Allows the cutter to be lowered through a spindle
  • Spindle: Allows the vertical movement of the cutter to locate it in the correct position.
  • Motor : It is the part of the milling machine that rotates the milling cutter in order to obtain chip removal.

How does a milling machine work?

The operation of milling machines is based on a cutting tool that, when turning at high speeds, allows chips to be removed from a material. In this process, the person moves the cutting tool and the piece, to tear off the material and end up with the desired shape.

With older milling machines , the operator must move the milling machine to shape the part. Current milling machines have a CNC control that allows work to be carried out with predetermined movements.

The movements that can be made are:

  • Longitudinal movement : It is the movement along the x axis.
  • Transverse movement: It is the movement along the y-axis.
  • Vertical movement: It is the movement along the z axis.

Types of milling machines

Vertical milling machines

In these types of milling machines, the axis of the spindle is perpendicular to the table. Allows vertical movement of the tool.

Horizontal milling machines

In these types of milling machines, the spindle is “lying down” and moves horizontally with respect to the table.

Universal horizontal milling machine

These types of milling machines differ from common horizontal ones as they have a table capable of moving up to 45 degrees and tilting the part.

CNC milling machines

They are milling machines with the latest technology. They have a computerized numerical control that allows to automate the movements of the milling machine so that they do not depend on a person, making them faster and more precise.

The sequence of movements to be carried out is programmed and the CNC milling machine interprets the programming code and executes it in due time.


How to operate a milling machine (universal)

Below we will detail the steps to follow to operate with a milling machine:

  1. First of all, the milling machine must be switched on .
  2. Then the work table must be accommodated , place the piece, fix it and accommodate the column of the machine.
  3. The corresponding milling cutter is placed in the spindle.
  4. Begin milling by moving the X and Y handwheels to give the piece the desired shape.

What is a milling machine used for?

As we mentioned in this article, milling basically serves to give certain pieces the desired shape. It is a fundamental machine in workshops or industries that produce parts.

Below we will detail all the operations that can be performed with a milling machine.

  • Face milling: This process performs a chip removal in order to leave a flat surface on the front face of the part. It is a finishing process.
  • Lateral milling: This process is used to remove chips from the sides of the part.
  • Plane milling: It is the milling of flat surfaces.
  • Straddle milling: Side milling of the two opposite sides of the part is performed simultaneously.
  • Angle milling: An angle milling cutter is used to perform this operation. In this case, the milling of two flat surfaces that form an angle with each other is carried out.
  • Gang milling: In this case, two milling cutters are used to perform two milling operations simultaneously.
  • Shape grinding: It is a milling performed on pieces with special surfaces (curves, straight) and a milling cutter with the shape of the piece’s contour is used.
  • End of milling: In this type of milling, flat surfaces are finished horizontally, vertically.
  • Milling saw: It is a milling process to produce grooves in the workpiece.
  • Gear milling : Gear end mills are used to perform gear milling
  • Helical milling: It is a type of milling that is performed to machine parts with a helical shape.
  • Cam milling: It is a type of milling in which cams are produced.
  • Thread milling: It is a type of milling in which threaded parts are produced .

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