Mill Drill Machine – The Buying Guide

Posted on Sep 8, 2020

mill drill machine

What is a mill drill machine? Let us break up this term into its two original parts. A mill or milling machine is basically a drilling machine with a two-axis table tied to it. Their advantage is that they are much cheaper than dedicated milling machines, and they also provide you with greater processing flexibility. However, on average, milling drill presses can compromise the overall stiffness that some milling operations may require.

But they are very suitable for light milling of precision holes. In this article, we will tell you about the differences between a drill press and a mill and tell you whether or not a mill drill machine might after all be the best choice for you.

Differences between a Drill and Mill Machine

The difference between a milling machine and a drilling machine is mainly related to the movement of the cutting tool. Since the drilling machine can only move up and down, it cannot cut along the surface of the workpiece. 

On the other hand, a milling machine can be used to flatten the surface of the material (called "opposite" material), cut the material to a specific overall size, and cut grooves in the material, which is different from a drill press. The mill drill machine combines these two applications into one machine. The main differences are outlined as follows:
The drill press can be compact and can be used for portable purposes. On the other hand, milling machines are much larger and are usually seen on the shop floor. 

Figure 1. Milling Machine(left), Mill Drill(Right)

The image above shows a milling machine by Gentiger (left) and a mill drill by Rong Fu (right). The mill drill machine weighs 560 KG with the size of 810*740*1150 mm. And the milling machine weighs 2140 KG with the size of 2400*1610*2355. That is four times as heavy and almost twice as big! 

Mill drill machines are also more accurate in terms of feature placement. Because the workbench can move materials in the x and y directions, the operator can arrange the materials better than on a drill press. When using a drilling machine, you must place the material by hand, and then screw it to the workbench, leaving a lot of room for error. Machinists can choose to use fixtures on the drill press so that they can place similar materials more consistently for repetitive tasks, but this is quite inaccurate in terms of the placement of the workpiece under the tool head.
Because of this additional function, milling machines are much more expensive. Depending on the size and the pace, a standard drill press will cost several hundred dollars. A typical milling machine which costs thousands of dollars. A mill drill machine is usually a very attractive option because it is relatively cheap.

→Read more : About Drilling and Milling Machines


Which Machine Is Better?

Drilling presses are the tool of choice for making quick holes that require relatively low accuracy, or when a cheaper method than manual drilling is needed to drill more consistently.

For jobs that require precision, creating flat parts, cutting parts to a certain size, or creating features or geometric shapes other than round holes or square holes, a milling machine is a clear choice. If you have a bigger budget, the milling machine is highly recommended because it can be operated like a drilling machine without any additional components or modifications. Unfortunately, it takes up more space and costs more, but it can do the same work that a drill press can do, and much more.

Alternatively, a mill drill machine is also a good choice if milling machines are not available. It is compact and economical, and ideal for machine and maintenance shops. Compared to drill presses, it is also capable of a wider range of functions, such as milling, drilling, routing, boring, and many other light duty operations. To sum up the strength of each machine:

Machinery Strength
Drill Press Capable of drilling many holes quickly
Milling Machine Capable of a wide range of functions that require precision
Mill Drill Machine Provides more functions than drill presses. Smaller and cheaper than milling machines

Machine Convertibility

Since the head of the milling machine can move up and down, it can drill and counterbore materials of different depths just like a drilling machine. This means that by ignoring the translation in the x and y directions, the milling machine can be used as a drilling machine.

However, it is much more difficult to turn a drill press into a mill because milling machines cut in the x and y directions by moving the worktable under the head. Unless you can build your own x and y guides to allow you to move the workpiece under the head, drilling machines will never be as accurate as milling machines.

When the material is secured with two vises, you can control these rails to make a custom-made milling press. One rail is used to insulate x directions and another for insulation of y-direction. You have converted it into a custom milling machine, in other words.

You might picture a board with the x-direction rails at the bottom and the y-direction grooves on top of them. Above it, you can place another board with a y-direction guide along the bottom and fix the vise on the top. The workbench of the drilling machine will be equipped with many existing x-direction slots. This allows your own milling and drilling machine to perform the same movements as the milling machine. 

Another obstacle is that the drilling machine can only be used for drilling, so the drilling machine cannot be designed to use cutting tools on the head. In order for the drilling machine to accept tools for milling flat plates (such as milling machines), other design work must be done.


Delivery of a Mill Drill Machine

Milling machines and mill drill machines can be very heavy. Their weight ranges from a few hundred pounds on the light side to thousands of pounds on the heavy side. Getting you back to your home or store is not easy. If you are transporting it yourself, please make sure that your truck or trailer can carry the goods and is firmly secured.

If you do not have a heavy flatbed truck and your own forklift like most home milling enthusiasts, you can rent a hoisting machine to move the machine for you.
Even at a short distance, it would cost at least a few hundred dollars to make it move. If you know anyone who owns this kind of equipment, it's definitely worth some help-you will need the money for tools.


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