A machining center is a computer numerical control (CNC) drilling/milling machine that has an automatic tool changer and a table that holds the workpiece in place while the job is performed. Vertical Machining is also known as milling. The machine uses rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece. They have a vertical spindle where the tools will point straight down from the tool holder and cut across the top of the material. As technology has advanced over the years, VMC’s have the capability to perform at higher speeds and use conversational control programming. These CNC machines also have ancillary equipment available, such as quick-change work holding devices, rotary indexes that enable four or five-axis machining, angle heads, and spindle speeders.
VMC’s are typically enclosed and have a standard of 3 axes, although you can add more. The 3 axes are the number of motors that are individually driven and control each position of the tool. The more axes a machining center has, the more control over the tool and workpiece it has. You can see why VMC’s with a 4th axis have an advantage in the workshop. The 3 main axes are known as the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis. The x-axis controls the movement from the left to the right. The y-axis controls movement from the front to the back. The z-axis controls movement up and down.
So, what would a 4th axis control? The 4th axis could be used to rotate the cutter around the x-axis, and this would allow the machine to drill holes in the front and back of the material. There are actually many possibilities with a 4th or even 5th axis which make the machines more versatile. Vertical Machining Centers are slightly less expensive than Horizontal Machining Centers. The biggest disadvantage of a VMC would be that the metal chips pile up around the tool, which can lead to interference with the cutting process. Vertical Machining Centers are generally more desired than the HMC’s, primarily because gravity is working with you in the cutting process.
Below is a quick pro list for VMC machines:
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