How to Select a Machining Mill?

Posted on Dec 18, 2020

Machining Mill

Milling machines can come in a variety of types and functions based on certain specifications and applications. Some of the common types of milling machines include turret, c-frame, horizontal, bed type, planer-style, and tracer controlled, all of which have gotten their name based on the kind of control and number of axis employed.

What Is a Machining Mill

A machining mill, more commonly known as the milling machine, is a machine that can produce all kinds of parts, manually controlled by an operator or automated by a CNC system. A milling machine is a very useful machine tool for unit production, small-scale production, or reworking parts.

Milling machines can come in a variety of types and functions based on certain specifications and applications. Some of the common types of milling machines include turret, c-frame, horizontal, bed type, planer-style, and tracer controlled, all of which have gotten their name based on the kind of control and number of axis employed.

A milling machine has many uses in the metalworking industry. Each machine is equipped with a blade that operates at variable speed to form the intended shapes. The variable speed feature allows each milling machine to perform a more precise cut. 

With the extremely broad selection along with the wide myriad of functions of milling machines out there, choosing the right one may be difficult. Therefore, in this article, we’ll specifically address different types of milling machines and each of their applications, as well as some of the selection factors you should take into account when buying a milling machine.

Different Types of Machining Mills

In this section, we have listed some of the most common types of milling machines:

Column Machine

This is the most commonly used machine that has five basic components, including the work table, head, knee, saddle, and overarm. It is considered to have the simplest configuration in the milling machine class, the cutting component of the machine is suspended to enable drilling operation. As for the application, it is mostly used in the automotive industry, namely producing small and handy car parts.

Turret Machine

Turret machining mill, often shortened as a turret, is a Bridgeport-type machine that is known for its repositioning capability at any given time. In other words, this machine can be even more functional when you want it to be. It is also a very versatile machine as it is also widely used in the automotive industries, excelling in producing a variety of car parts.


This type of milling machine is known for its superior rigidity, even more so than a turret-type machine. Due to the fact that a C-frame machine is typically equipped with a powerful hydraulic motor, it is very popular in industrial settings in which heavy-duty or larger series operations are involved.

Horizontal Milling Machine

This type of machine is named after its unique structure as it runs parallel to the floor. The table on which the workpiece is placed can be moved sideways as the cutting devices move up and down for drilling operation. Some of the horizontal milling machine’s applications include creating slots, cutting multiple grooves in a workpiece, completing projects in which all sides of materials need to be worked on, and large projects wherein heavy-duty materials are involved. 

Vertical Milling Machine

As the name implies, vertical milling machines (or vertical mills) have a vertical spindle or cutting tool. This type of machine is actually simpler compared to the horizontal counterpart. Unlike horizontal milling machines, vertical mills are typically used for more affordable and relatively smaller projects.

Tracer Controlled

This type of machine has the unique ability to reproduce parts based on a pre-existing model. It is extremely popular among all industrial sectors, especially the automotive industry, where production needs to be optimized. 

Before considering other selection factors, you need to choose which type of milling machine best suits your intended use. If you are unsure, it is always wise to consult a specialist on choosing the most suitable type of machine.

:: Read More: Different Types of Milling Machines

Selection Factors for Machining Mills

Below is a list of factors that you should consider when buying milling machines for your workshop:


Keep in mind that milling machines are not cheap, which is why your company budget should always be the primary concern when it comes to buying one. You should also account for the machine tool parts for replacement, the expense for transporting the machine to your premise, installment fee, and others. Also, do note that a brand new milling machine is more expensive than an old one by a big margin, so always evaluate your budget first.


This has a lot to do with what we covered in the previous section. You need to think about what size of machine you need, what parts are to be manufactured, is mass production required, and so on. For instance, for medium to low volume production environments, a column-type milling machine just do just fine. Moreover, speed and accuracy factors are just as important as speed means greater productivity, and accuracy means lower defection rate.  


To maximize efficiency, you should be looking for a milling machine that allows you to program the machine with the CNC system. This greatly reduces the degree of human intervention, allowing you to allocate your manpower more effectively. For starters, you always have the option of conversational programming to better help you get started in familiarizing yourself with the operation.


Milling machines, new or old, are a substantial investment that can incur significant maintenance costs because replacing parts and repairs are very complicated. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your manufacturer is supportive when it comes to providing the relevant service. You should always have a dedicated cleaning and maintenance scheme that enables your machine to last for as long as possible.

As a second-hand buyer, one thing you should keep in mind is to account for the availability and price of the parts of a second-hand machine because the parts may not always be available for replacement. A common issue is in fact that certain parts of these second-hand machines have ceased to be manufactured.

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