The milling machine is a machine tool that is used for machining by chip removal and is widely used in machining workshops and factories since the Industrial Revolution. It is characterized by the rotary movement of its cutting tool, the milling cutter; This tool is provided with several edges. Nowadays, in addition to the conventional models, it is also possible to find the universal CNC milling machine on the market .
What are milling machines?
Milling machines are used for machining parts of different materials by chip removal. These machines are very versatile thanks to the large number of operations they carry out, but also due to the materials they accept. A milling machine can work on wood, steel, non-ferrous metals, iron and synthetic materials , as well as different surfaces regardless of whether they are flat , curved , serrated, with grooves, etc. And, in addition, the parts worked on these machines can be subjected to roughing and refining processes .
What is a milling machine and how does it work? Conventional milling machines and CNC milling machines do not differ much from each other. A milling machine, in general terms, is a machine tool provided with a cutting tool called a milling cutter; The milling cutter is made up of cutting edges or lips that rotate removing excess material from the surface of a part.
It was in the early 19th century that conventional milling machines were invented. Over the years, they have been adapting to the new technologies and needs of the sector until they have become essential machines for any workshop. With the invention of computerized numerical control or CNC, conventional milling machines were updated and today it is possible to find models of these machines that work automatically with the help of a computer .
In the industry there are different types of milling machines and each one follows specific processes . The conventional universal milling machine is characterized by having a main spindle that is used for the coupling of the horizontal tool-holder axes . In addition, it has a head that couples with said spindle and that allows the milling machine to become vertical . That is, a universal milling machine with the right tools can easily be converted to a vertical one. In this type of milling machines, the ram or sliding bridge can move from back to front and vice versa using guides.
Features of CNC universal milling machine
The universal CNC milling machine is characterized by the wide variety of machining that it can perform, but also by the flexibility that it allows in the manufacturing processes. In addition, these types of machines have achieved programmable automation of production and were designed for the manufacture of large production volumes of simple parts or medium to low volumes of more complex parts . Thanks to this computerized numerical control system, milling machines can insert part models to others through advanced programs and tools .
In the universal CNC milling machine, as in other machines that work with this technology, the CNC equipment is controlled through an alphanumeric program , that is, it uses numbers, letters and other symbols. Here are the so-called G and M codes (auxiliary movements and cycles and auxiliary functions, respectively). These characters are encoded in an optimal language to be able to define an instruction program that allows the development of specific tasks . If switching between programs is required , the machine itself knows the variations it has to make; these variations include the change of program, but also of tools. For mass production, machine shops and factories can include robotic arms that contribute to feeding.
The most advanced universal milling machines are made up of electronic display systems ; these show the positions of the tools relative to the coordinate system . Thanks to this display system it is possible to easily read the dimensions of the displacements .
It is important to note that the alphanumeric programming language of the Universal Mill may vary. Many milling machines incorporate the international standard language ISO , but may also include Heidenhain , Fagor , or Siemens .
Advantages of CNC milling
CNC milling machines work with programming software that allows (and needs) to design the part through computers ; once the design has been completed on a computer following the CAD program , it is translated into the alphanumeric language of the CNC. The programming of the machine can be done by the operator selecting the cutting parameters required by the part to be machined. When the machine is turned on, the mill’s computer knows what to do and tells the cutting tools what motions to follow and at what feed rate , depth , and pass .
This is, without a doubt, the main advantage of the CNC universal milling machine: its automation . This machine requires the minimum intervention of the operator, who will only have to do the appropriate programming . In fact, the same operator can simultaneously supervise several CNC machines. On the other hand, CNC milling machines allow machining to be much more precise than if done with conventional tools. But that’s not all, depending on the number of axes that the equipment has, the head of the CNC milling machine will be able to access different angles of the part to be machined.
Finally, this type of machine tools optimize production , which helps to reduce delivery times and deadlines and, of course, also costs .