What is a gantry? A gantry is, “various spanning frameworks, as a bridge-like portion of certain cranes.” It is a structure that moves on a rail system and bridges over the work area. The gantry is fixed on the rail and each axis is motorized so that it can simultaneously coordinate the movements to cut the material. The x-axis is usually where the gantry rides on. This rail system is either pedestal mounted, floor mounted, or integrated onto the side of the table. These rails are made to support the weight of the entire machine as well as everything mounted to it. The Y-axis is typically the bridge itself. The guiding system for the Y-axis is smaller than the X-axis rails. This is due to the fact that they only carry a small cutting tool and carriage. The weight of that is not even close to as heavy as the entire gantry itself. The two axes move simultaneously to cut shapes out of the material. The gantry consists of a tool carriage (sometimes they have multiple tool carriages) that has its own drive motor to move in the Y-axis. On some machines, there is one motor that drives the Y-axis and the tool carriages (if multiple) are connected together by a mechanical device. Most machine enthusiasts would say that Bridge mills are more rigid and robust than a Gantry mill although both could have similar capacities depending on the design.
CNC Gantry and Bridge Mill machines hover over the material and because of this, are able to cut very large pieces of metal. They can machine from five sides of the workpiece as well. Gantry and Bridge Mills are large machines that are primarily made for mass production. Some machines can span 100 feet wide and others can be as small as having a 2 by 2 cutting area. They come in a wide variety of sizes!
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