The CNC milling machines are also frequently referred to as CNC machining centers or CNC turning centers. They are computer controlled mills which move a milling spindle vertically to perform a series of cutting operations onto work pieces. CNC stands for computer numerical control. It is a control unit which monitors and corrects the movements of the milling machine during a machining process. With the CNC system, more precision and efficiency are added into the machining processes executed by the mill.
A CNC milling machine usually comes in with the configuration of the console style machinery with a main spindle to perform the machining processes and a bed to which the work piece is placed and secured. A CNC turning center can also be a booth-like machine which contains multiple spindles to perform several operations at once. The other common type of CNC machining center is the double column CNC milling Machine.
The double column CNC milling machines are one of the major types of the CNC machining center. It is commonly referred to as the bridge-style CNC machining center or the CNC router. This type of CNC milling machine is typically the large scale machining equipment which takes up a large space at a working site. The machining spindle is mounted onto a gantry that is hung over the bed of the machine. There are also downsized double column CNC milling machines that are designed to handle medium size work pieces.
What makes the double column CNC milling machines distinctive from other types of machining center is that the double column machines have a gantry that bridges over the lathe bed of the machine. The bridge-style gantry hangs over the lathe bed with two columns which are mounted to a rail set at the longitudinal sides of the milling machine, and hence the name. The lathe bed on the other hand is usually constructed with linear guides and bolt screws so that the workpiece can be moved on the lathe bed. The lathe bed is also referred to as the cutting surface.
The cutting surface of a double column CNC milling machine can be a lathe, faceplate, or a bed with linear guides and bolt screws. Regardless of the style the cutting surface has, it is where the work pieces are secured and machined. The way a workpiece is held in place on the mill differs according to the clamping system the mill incorporates. The most common work holding system includes jaw chucks and vices.
In most applications, a workpiece is held in place and stays stationary; in some other applications, a work piece is secured while allowed with certain movements so that the machining operations can be done more efficiently. On a regular CNC lathe, it is usually a motor that controls the movement of the workpiece. Yet, on a double column CNC milling machine, the bed is mostly a surface attached to bolt screws with linear guides; the work piece is allowed with a linear movement along the cutting surface.
On a double column CNC milling machine, the spindle is attached to a CNC gantry, the bridge-style operating device. The CNC gantry is mounted onto the rail set along the longitudinal sides of the mill. Therefore, the bridge can move across the lathe bed and the spindle that attaches to it can move across the lathe bed accordingly. The linear movement of the gantry is referred to as the X axis movement.
The spindle has an additional Y axis movement, which refers to the transverse movement of the spindle along the latitudinal axis of the cutting surface. This Y axis movement is enabled by the motion capability of the spindle along the gantry bridge. With the X and Y axis motion capability, the spindle can basically perform cutting works across the entire lathe bed surface.
The Z axis movement is the vertical movement of the spindle which is enabled by a power system that lifts and lowers the spindle on the gantry. The power system is usually a hydraulic or pneumatic system. The double column CNC milling machine with 3-axis movement has more versatility to the machining applications it is able to perform.
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