Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machines and the Differences

Posted on Dec 21, 2020

Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machine

Vertical and horizontal milling machines are the two most common types of milling machines on the market. The vertical milling machines refer to the mills that have the spindle head positioned vertically on the mill. On the other hand, a horizontal milling machine has the spindle head positioned horizontally to which the spindle is parallel to the floor. 

What Are Milling Machines?

Milling machines are essentially the equipment used to machine flat surfaces as well as irregular surfaces on a workpiece. They are very versatile and can be used to perform plenty of machining operations such as drilling, boring, reaming, threading just to name a few. A typical milling machine is constructed with a work table and a spindle head. A work table is where a workpiece is placed. The spindle head is where the milling cutter is attached and it is the part to perform the machining operation. There is usually a column that connects the table and the spindle; the spindle head is supported above the work table by the column. This is the very basic configuration of a milling machine. The milling machines vary in design and style based on the machining operations they perform. Based on how the spindle head is positioned, the milling machines can be divided into two main types: vertical and horizontal milling machines.
 

Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machine

Vertical and horizontal milling machines are the two most common types of milling machines on the market. The vertical milling machines refer to the mills that have the spindle head positioned vertically on the mill. The moving axis of the spindle on a vertical milling machine is perpendicular to the worktable; the spindle head moves upward and downward. On the other hand, a horizontal milling machine has the spindle head positioned horizontally to which the spindle is parallel to the floor; the spindle moves horizontally on the machine. The vertical and horizontal milling machines have their own pros and cons when it comes to the performance they are able to provide and the operations they can carry out.
 

The function of a Milling Machine

Regardless of the machine type, both vertical and horizontal milling machines are used for machining workpieces. Generally speaking, milling covers a wide variety of machining operations such as turning, facing, chamfering, threading, boring, drilling, etc. The goal of these machining operations is to remove a certain amount of stock from a given object in order to form the object into the desired configuration. The milling machines come in various types because some machining processes are best executed with machines in a particular configuration. With the spindle moving vertically or horizontally, a milling machine can be equipped with entirely different capabilities. Besides vertical and horizontal milling machines, the mills can be further divided into more subtypes based on the way they are operated.
 

:: Read More: All You Need to Know about Five-Axis Milling Machine

Vertical Milling Machines

Vertical milling machines are the mills that have the spindle moving vertically. It is the most common type of milling machine. The spindle head is held by a column that attaches to the worktable of the machine. Since the spindle is vertically oriented, it is hung over the work table and performs a milling process by moving downward against the surface of the workpiece. When the spindle is pressed downward against the workpiece, the contact surface of the workpiece is removed by the mill cutter.

There are two types of vertical milling machines: the turret milling machines and the bed milling machines. The spindle and work table on a turret milling machine can move perpendicularly and parallel to the axis while on a bed milling machine, only the worktable can move perpendicularly to the axis. A turret milling machine is able to perform a wider variety of milling operations than a bed milling machine; therefore, it is preferred to the bed type machines by most parts manufacturers.
 

Horizontal Milling Machines

The horizontal milling machines also have a spindle head that is responsible for performing milling operations; yet, the spindle head is horizontally oriented. The spindle head is positioned parallel to the floor and the worktable; it advances horizontally from the workpiece to the machine. A typical horizontal milling machine is used to create holes or grooves on the side faces of a workpiece while a vertical milling machine cuts a workpiece on its top face.

The difference between the vertical and horizontal milling machines does not only come along with the orientation of the spindle but also the milling cutters they use. A horizontal milling machine usually uses short and thick milling cutters while a vertical milling machine works with longer and thinner cutting tools. These two types of milling machines have their own merits and limitations; as a result, choosing the correct machine for the application is always important to the part manufacturers.
 

Differences between Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machine

As aforementioned, the primary difference between the vertical and horizontal milling machines is the spindle head orientation. With vertical milling machines, the spindle moves vertically; with horizontal milling machines, the spindle moves horizontally. The vertical milling machines are used more often for light-duty machining processes while the horizontal milling machines are ideal for heavy-duty processes. The horizontal mills are capable of performing heavier and deeper cuts on the workpieces. The vertical milling machines are used for drilling, boring, reaming, etc., and the horizontal milling machines are used to create grooves and slots into workpieces.

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