Bridge Type Machining Centers

In the machine tool sector, the bridge type machining center is a very common model and is a highly developed machine tool that can deal with many kinds of machining tasks all in one place. At the very first, bridge type machine center is developed from bridge type milling machines at the mid of 20th century and since then, the development of this specific type of machine tools goes well in the industry, and after that, machine centers are widely applied in all kinds of industries, contributing a wide scale of commercial efforts. Regarding bridge type milling, as its name tells, is the process of machining that utilizes spinning tools to remove work piece materials by advancing a tool into one or several work pieces.

This machining method could be done in different directions. Besides turning, milling covers a wide variety of various operations and ranges a wide scale from single tiny parts to heavy and large milling operation tasks. Similar to turning, milling is one of the most usually accepted machining channels that render precision tolerances. Accordingly, the study and development of milling method are highly popular in the industrial world due to its productive and effective nature for rendering work pieces with complex profiles which are comparatively difficult to achieve by conventional turning machines.

Type of Machining Center

As one of the classic but always useful types in the machining center family, bridge type machining center is a highly developed machine tool that can deal with many heavy-duty precision machining tasks on large and hard work pieces all at once without the need to convey the processed work piece in the midst of machining unto other milling centers. In the very beginning when the machine tool industry was still making progress in slow pace, machine center was developed from milling machines at the mid of the last century and since then, the progress of this specific type of machine tools goes well in the industry, and after that, machine centers are widely applied in all sorts of industries, contributing a lot to the world industry with its versatility.

Cutting faster without relocation

Since it is derived from the milling machines, the milling process of the bridge type machining center is the process of machining that utilizes spinning tools to remove work piece materials by advancing a tool into one or several work pieces, just like ordinary milling machineries.

Meanwhile, this machining method could be done on different directions and ordinary machining centers would have at least three axes installed on the base parts. Besides turning, milling covers a wide variety of various operations and ranges a wide scale from single tiny parts to heavy and large milling operation tasks. Similar to turning, milling is one of the most usually adopted machining methods that achieve precision tolerances within accurate requirements. That is to say, the application and practical natures of machine centers stimulate the development of milling methods, which is later highly popular in the industrial world that demands even strict machining accuracy. Its productive and effective nature for rendering work pieces with complex profiles is comparatively hard to achieve by conventional turning lathes.

Based on this expectation, the following development and the idea of machine centers are thus gradually formed. The phrase “machining center” can be used to describe a wide variety of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) drilling and milling machineries that are accommodated with several critical but sometimes optional accessories equipped together with the machine body itself, such as tool magazine, ATC (automatic tool changer), power tool turret, CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine), multi-axis working tables, and many other corresponding stuff.

Vertical vs. horizontal

Just like turning machines and milling machines, the inventory of machining centers can be roughly divided into two main categories: vertical and horizontal, and there are still other categories in the machining center inventory.

Similar to the lathe, vertical machining center is the arrangement of its structure that aligns vertically, and the work pieces are machined by cutting tools that go up and down vertically. On the contrary, horizontal machining centers have the spindle arranged horizontally and the machining is conducted lying flat.

Working tables on machining centers

As mentioned above, most machining centers have at least three axes on the machine bases while many of them even have the 4th or 5th axis through the attached rotary table units to make multi-axial processing possible. With the other additional 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. The same with the four plus one structure and all these mechanisms are all under the control of computer numerical control unit that makes synchronized actions perfectly matched with the targeted accuracy.

During onsite operational circumstances, if the size of work piece is too big that is over the size allowed, the machining would cause too much vibration to the machine body and thus deteriorate the precision frame of the machining centers, that is not an acceptable situation to both manufacturers and the following production lines, so manufacturers might add some other structural designs onto the body so as to make it with better rigidity during the milling process.

Further, the work piece machining of machine centers are normally not of round shape but other complicated profiles since the former one can be dealt with by turning machine with power turret in a much more productive manner. Rotational speed per minute, RMP, of the spindle is a key parameter that determines the performance of the machining center. For gantry type models, the RPM (revolutions per minute) standards differ and there is no such a common range.

Bridge type plus 5 axis once combined, the functionality is one of the most practical solutions to solve the machining vibration issues while improve the accuracy at the same time. The double-column bridge frames are generally classified into two types: either fixed column or moving column. The former is the design that both columns stay where they are without the possibility of moving, and the latter allows for another axis to be born, thus greatly improves the convenience of machining.

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