What is a Precision Milling Machine?

Posted on Dec 16, 2020

Precision Milling Machine

Contrary to ordinary drilling machines that are limited to a single axis of motion, a precision milling machine moves along multiple axes (X, Y, and Z). When a part is milled, it is held in place onto a moving table (or bed) with tools such as vices, V blocks or step clamps.


A precision milling machine is a machine tool that is utilized to perform sophisticated cutting operations through the rotation of a tool that has several edges known as teeth. These teeth enable movement in any direction as the precision machine tool cuts the workpiece to be formed into the optimum shape. When one talks about a mill with maximum operational accuracy, he or she is most likely referring to the precision CNC milling machine. There is also a great possibility that the unit is equipped with a computer numerical control feature that enables the most accurate cut for drilling or other processes involving the removal of chips from even the smallest parts.

What Is a Milling Machine?

The cutting action takes place when a workpiece is fed against a rotating cutting tool of a milling machine. The cutters come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the intended procedures. Numerous form-tooth cutters are also utilized for cutting convex forms, concave grooves, rounding corners, and cutting gear teeth. The cutters always rotate at high speed and are capable of removing chips at a very fast rate thanks to the multiple cutting edges. The machine is also able to hold one or more cutters simultaneously, making it one of the integral machinery in the workshop. 

With milling machines, all operations can be carried out with high accuracy. They are available in a variety of designs that can be categorized as follows: Standard knee-and-column machines, including the horizontal and the vertical types; bed-type or manufacturing machines; and machines designed for special milling jobs. The metal removal rate is high in comparison to a lathe machine, shaper machine, and a planer machine. It has outstanding precision and a better surface finish. The following are the different components of a milling machine: Base, column, saddle, table, overhanging arm, front brace, spindle, and arbor.

:: Read More: What to Expect From CNC Milling Machines in the Future?

How does it Work?

The primary purpose of a milling machine in metal operation is to remove metal from a workpiece. In the operation, the metal piece to be machined is held on the table with multiple teeth attached to a rotating spindle. The cutting tool rotates at a constant speed as the metal piece is fed against the cutting tool slowly. The workpiece can be fed longitudinally or vertically. Then, the metal is removed from the surface of the workpiece by the cutter teeth to form the desired shape.

What Is Precision Machining?

Precision machining is an emerging area in manufacturing and something that is tight-knit with our daily lives. This type of advanced machining possesses the ability to achieve finishes with close tolerance and to fabricate a final product with finishes easily. In other words, this method is a process that removes metal from a workpiece, so that highly accurate parts with the required specification can be produced. This process involves cutting, milling, turning, and electrical discharge machining, and is generally executed by utilizing the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment.

Machining precision pats encompasses both large and small objects that we employ in everyday life. Every little piece of a metal piece demands some degree of a mechanical worker’s skills whether you believe it or not. These techniques can be found in every industry and technology from the manufacturing of vehicles to medical equipment and airplane parts. So fundamentally – if a product contains very intricate parts, it required some type of ultra precision machining. This CNC machining technology creates 3D diagrams or outlines required in order to fabricate a machine, object, or tool. The blueprints must be created with great detail to ensure quality. 

Numerous tools and techniques are utilized depending on the size of the project and the materials involved. Machinists must be adept at the different processes and equipment. They may utilize any combination of drill presses, grinders, lathes, milling machines, saws, and even high-speed robotics to get the job done.

How Does Precision Milling Function?

Contrary to ordinary drilling machines that are limited to a single axis of motion, a precision milling machine can usually perform multi axis machining (X, Y, and Z or even more). When a part is milled, it is held in place onto a moving table (or bed) with tools such as vices, V blocks (to hold cylindrical seamless tubing), or step clamps. A rotating cutting tool, housed in the machine head, is brought down onto the part while chips are taken away through a cooling lubricant.
It is imperative to grasp the concept because you’ll have a better idea of how to deal with workpieces that are more difficult to mill. As for precision CNC milling machines, they are typically operated by the number of axes on which they control. Most machines operate within three to five axes. Generally speaking, the X and Y axis of a milling machine moves the part back and forth within the horizontal axis while the cutting tool moves vertically within the Z-axis.

Difference between Milling and Drilling

Drilling and milling are two of the most commonly utilized machining processes. With the help of these two processes, machinists can fabricate the workpieces according to the specifications. Understanding the chief differences between these two is important to manufacturing metal, wood, and other types of workpieces.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Motion

The first distinguishing characteristic between the two is the direction by which the equipment cuts through a material. When utilizing a drilling machine, you need to move the cutting attachment in a vertical motion to cut through and take away parts of the work-piece. Milling machines, on one hand, use either a horizontal or vertical motion to boreholes, fine-tune edges or cut specific shapes.

Position of the Workpiece

Another obvious difference between the two is how you position the workpiece against the cutting attachment. For the drilling process, the stock remains static on the table. Alternatively, you need to position the material utilizing the table clamp and move the cutter by pulling the hand lever. For the milling process, you will find that the stock does not remain stationary on the worktable. In lieu, you can freely move it against the rotating blade or cutting spindle to create the target shape or design that you want. At the same time, you get to move the spinning cutter vertically or horizontally depending on the model that you employ. 

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