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Column milling machines are the milling machines that are designed with column structure for different purposes. The most famous column based milling machines are the double column milling machines or double column machining centers that can deal with a series of milling works with high rigidity. Milling is the process of machining that utilizes spinning tools to remove some parts of materials of the work piece by the movement of advancing a cutting tool into one or several work pieces, depending on the models and work patterns. The milling process can be carried on different directions, and the column, if it is of single column structure, then it often provides one axis of mobility to the milling direction.
Milling by the column covers a wide variety of various operations if coordinated with other axes, and this 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 render precision tolerances. The study and the mechanical development of milling method is highly popular in the industrial world due to its productive and effective nature for rendering work pieces with complex profiles which is comparatively hard to achieve by conventional turning lathes. With this expectation, the following development and the idea of machine centers are thus gradually formed in progress.
If it is a single column, that part is often used as the vertical axis as Y or Z for the milling process, and normally in the traditional design of milling machines, there are three axes existed inside the machine body that can work most of the processing tasks today, but with more steps of change of work piece positions and relocations. While with the double column structure, it can offer at least one additional axis to the milling process, totally offering two axes to the working process so that the milling machines could have four axes as the basis.
This headline is not a statement, but rather, like a question. Some manufacturers may think that once if they can have more axes on their machine tools, their processing procedures could be carried much easier since there are less manual steps such as relocations of work pieces by cranes or other things need to be done. But the things are, with the axis added unto the working patterns the planning of the cutting routes by onsite workers or the manufacturing engineers are much complicated, and many workers give up that additional axis, the fourth axis, due to this reason. They use only three axes to process their jobs by their five axis double column milling machines or four axis milling machines, regardless of the highly advanced additional axis structure.
For this reason, many practical manufacturers in the industry try to discuss with the column milling machine manufacturers about their processing demands before they made their order requests. They will tell more details to the machine tool suppliers about how they will process their work pieces and ask for their suggestions as feedback. In the past it was not common cause they were afraid of leaking the know how of their business model or working modes, but now some suppliers and buyers may have some protection measure to prevent this from happening. Such cooperative exist and with the suggestions from the machine tool suppliers, now users from the manufacturing industry would have more knowledge about how to do with their capital goods.
The bridge is the horizontal beam that is supported by the double columns, and with this structure it often goes for the fifth axis. Regarding the column milling machine designed as 5 axis working station, 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 machines is considered very convenient if used properly, and the situation is the same to the other 4+1 and 3+2 machining centers, while the latter are with more practical advantages.
The fourth and fifth are the A and B, and traditional machining centers or milling machines are designed at least with three axes on the body itself, namely, x, y, and z. The CNC double column milling machine is designed to process large and thick work pieces that is not easy to deal with in ordinary circumstances. Machining large pieces by normal size column milling machines would cause strong and intolerant vibration to the machine frame, causing uncontrollable deviation from the targeted accuracy. Therefore, with the two columns, cutting vibration of the milling machines is thus reduced and the rigidity of tools is enhanced.
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