Introduction to High Speed Horizontal Machining Center

Posted on Sep 23, 2020

High Speed Horizontal Machining Center

The high-speed horizontal machining center is one of the highly studied and evolved machine tool models with advanced spindles that can deal with multiple types of machining tasks all at one stop due to its multitasking and convenient design. That is why horizontal machining centers are so popular in the market.

At the very first, horizontal machine centers are evolved from the design of conventional milling machines at the mid of the 20th century; since then, the research and development of this specific type of machine tools have experienced continual progress in the lab as well as in the industry. After that, diversified machine center models are broadly applied in all kinds of industries for professional and precision usages, contributing to a broad range of industrial achievements.


Machining Centers

The term "horizontal machining center" can be used to describe a wide variety of CNC milling and drilling machinery that include several critical accessories designed and assembled together with the machine frame itself, such as tool magazine, ATC (automatic tool changer), CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine), power tool turret, multi-axis working tables, advanced built-in spindle, just to name a few here. The spindle types are often motorized and need to be compact. Together with the compilation of the horizontal machining arrangement, the horizontal machining centers with motorized spindles are thus made. It is worth note that the role of spindles is rather important since it determines a lot of things that are related such as heavy-duty works, and with the horizontal machining processes especially in the high torque and heavy-duty processing of hard material machining. High-speed machining relies heavily on the spindle rotational speed and the torque control of the spindles so that this spindle issue shall be taken care of carefully.

:: Read More: The CNC horizontal machining center benefits


Machining Inventory: Horizontal and Vertical

Both high speed and horizontal machining are two separate features that can make a whole inventory for heavy-duty processing in the machining center classification. The cutting phase works with the spindle and the chuck phase to operate so there are basically two types of directions. The one is vertical and the other is horizontal. Vertical machining centers are the arrangement of its structure that aligns the spindles and chuck vertically, and the workpieces are thus machined by cutting tools that go down and go up vertically by the vertical machining centers with the motorized spindles. Meanwhile, on the contrary to the vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers have the spindle arranged horizontally and the machining procedure is processed horizontally, which is different from the vertical machining process.

Machine center was a type of advanced machine tools evolved from milling machines in the 1960s and since then, the development of this specific type of machine tools progresses well in the industry, and after that machine centers were widely applied in all kinds of industries in the 1990s, the market became very mature and the trend continues to now. Similar to turning, milling is one of the most usually adopted machining methods that render accurate tolerances. Besides the model of vertical and horizontal, there are still other categories in the machining center inventory.

:: Read More: CNC vertical machining center: Which is best for your shop?


High RPM & Heavy-duty Cutting

The definition of how high the speed can be referred to as a high RPM machining center differs from place to place. For most of the Asian market, a spindle with RPM that exceeds 15000 could be regarded as high RPM machining centers. However, for the Japanese market, the speed may be higher for another ten thousand RPM or two, and in the case of West Europe, about 30000 RPM can be regarded as a high RPM machining center. For these high-speed horizontal machining centers, there will often be installed with power turrets for the heavy-duty considerations. With the help of a powered turret, the cycle time is thus shortened significantly. With the live tools, the tool holders and the connection of the main spindle are very complicated so the speed shall be coordinated well with the torque force that also works importantly for the machining.


Axis Machining Arrangement

For both vertical and horizontal models, either one could be equipped with 5 axes. Regarding the 5 axis machining centers, there are mainly three types of construction methods that constitute the five axes movement. With the swing head alone that can achieve all the processing angles, the swing head model of machines is considered convenient as well as other 4+1 and 3+2 machining centers, while the latter two are with more practical advantages such as great flexibility and practical prices.

Normally the 3+2 model is a conventional CNC three-axis machining center to be installed with another working table whose mechanism contains other two axes. Therefore, with the two axes designed on the rotary table, the x, y, and z-axis can move onto two new working dimensions that permit multiple angles of possible cutting processes. On the other hand, traditional machining centers are designed at least with three axes, namely, x, y, and z-axis. Nowadays, as the industrial processes get complicated due to the demands for fewer processing steps, there are machining centers designed with the 4th and even 5th axis to complete all the cutting tasks at one stop. Regarding the 5 axis machining centers, there are mainly three types of construction methods that constitute a 5 axis machine.

With the swing head alone that can achieve most processing angles; this kind of machine is considered convenient as well as other 4+1 and 3+2 machining centers, while the latter is with more practical advantages. There are plenty of machine center manufacturers in Taiwan who dedicated to research and development in the industry and offer optimal solutions for users all over the world.


Other Structures of Composition

The same with the 4+1 structure and all these mechanisms are under the control of a computer numerical control unit that makes synchronized actions perfectly matched with the targeted accuracy. The accuracy value of the 5 axis machining process shall be estimated by the CMM devices and that can also be integrated into one of the axis works. So axis machining process is very wide in the work spectrum.

During onsite operation, if the size of the workpiece is too big, the machining would cause too much vibration to the machine body and thus deteriorate the precision frame of the machining centers, therefore, manufacturers might add some other structural designs onto the body in order to make it with better rigidity. Among the many possible design options, the double-column is one of the very practical solutions to solve the machining vibration issues while improving the accuracy at the same time.

The double-column machining centers are normally categorized into two types: either fixed column or moving column. The fixed version is the design that both columns stay where they are without the possibility of moving, and the moving version allows for another axis to be born, thus greatly improves the convenience of machining. With the column structure, the overall cutting capacity can be increased to a higher level and the torque issue can be even enhanced to a new extent. For columns to be doubled in the structure, once when it is doing the heavy cutting, the vibration issues can be reduced to the minimum values as the two columns can absorb the vibrations well. The cutting capacity and the absorbing competence of the double column horizontal machining centers thereof can help the machine body to deal with a series of working conditions for high tech demands such as 5 axis machining of aerospace components.


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