Small Vertical Milling Machine

What is a Small Vertical Milling Machine?

A small vertical milling machine, or a mini vertical milling machine, is a precision tool used for fabrication and shaping by the removal of stock from metal workpieces. Plastics and other materials can also be machined using a small vertical milling machine based on tooling and material.

For a vertical milling machine, the spindle axis is vertically oriented. Milling cutters are held in the spindle and rotate on its axis. The vertical spindle can normally be lowered, allowing plunge cuts and drilling. Mill controls of a vertical milling machine may be manually operated, computer numerical controlled (CNC), or a combination of both.

Types of Small Vertical Milling Machines

Vertical milling machines can typically be classified into two subcategories of vertical mills: the bed mill and the turret mill.

● Turret mill:
Turret mill has a fixed spindle and the table is moved both perpendicular and parallel to the spindle axis to accomplish cutting. Some turret mills have a quill which allows the milling cutter (or a drill) to be raised and lowered in a manner similar to a drill press. This provides two methods of cutting in the vertical (Z) direction: by raising or lowering the quill, and by moving the knee. Turret mills are generally considered by some to be the more versatile one of the two designs.

● Bed mill:
In a bed mill, on the other hand, the table moves only perpendicular to the spindle's axis, while the spindle itself moves parallel to its own axis.

Moreover, a third type also exists, a lighter, more versatile machine, called a mill-drill. The mill-drill is a close relative of the vertical milling machine and quite popular in light industry; and with hobbyists. A mill-drill is similar in basic configuration to a very heavy drill press, but equipped with an X-Y table and a much larger column. They also typically use more powerful motors than a comparably sized drill press, most are muti-speed belt driven with some models having a geared head or electronic speed control. They generally have quite heavy duty spindle bearings to deal with the lateral loading on the spindle that is created by a milling operation.

How Does a Small Vertical Milling Machine Work?

Vertical milling machine may be manually operated, computer numerical controlled (CNC), or a combination of both. Mill machining and material removal are normally made by a rotary cutter held in a spindle. The cutting options are more intricate and variable as opposed to a drill press by virtue of a moveable table or vise, and vertical spindle movement.

A vertical milling machine also typically raises and lowers the entire head, including motor, often on a dovetailed (sometimes round with rack and pinion) vertical column. It also has a large quill that is generally locked during milling operations and released to facilitate drilling functions.

Other differences that separate a vertical milling machine from a drill press may be a fine tuning adjustment for the Z-axis, a more precise depth stop, the capability to lock the X, Y or Z axis, and often a system of tilting the head or the entire vertical column and powerhead assembly to allow angled cutting-drilling.

Application of Small Vertical Milling Machine

Some of the common applications of vertical milling machine include:

● Milling:
This is the core operation that provides a flat surface or spot on a workpiece, normally with a specific orientation to other workpiece features, surfaces, or another piece. Facing is also used at times on an odd shaped workpieces to work on one surface at a time to ensure that all surfaces have the intended geometric relationships with one another.

● Slotting or keyways:
Slots, keyways or flats can be cut with proper fixturing. Slotting is essentially a process by which a workpiece is held on the machine table that is then advanced into the path of a reciprocating ram, upon which is mounted a single point cutting tool. The slots can be short or long, closed or open, straight or non-straight, deep or shallow, and wide or narrow.
● Drilling or boring:
Drilling and boring require specific orientations among workpiece features. The vertical milling machine offers the means to index and machine holes accurately and precisely. Boring in particular can precisely enlarge an already existing hole using a single point cutter. The dimensions between the workpiece and the tool bit can be changed about two axes to cut both vertically into the internal surface.

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