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Milling Machine
Jun 28, 2018

Bed mill: This refers to any milling machine where the spindle is on a pendant that moves up and down to move the cutter into the work, while the table sits on a stout bed that rests on the floor. These are generally more rigid than a knee mill. Gantry mills can be included in this bed mill category.

Box mill: or column mill Very basic hobbyist bench-mounted milling machines that feature a head riding up and down on a column or box way.

C-frame mill: These are larger, industrial production mills. They feature a knee and fixed spindle head that is only mobile vertically. They are typically much more powerful than a turret mill, featuring a separate hydraulic motor for integral hydraulic power feeds in all directions, and a twenty to fifty horsepower motor. Backlash eliminators are almost always standard equipment. They use large NMTB 40 or 50 tooling. The tables on C-frame mills are usually 18" by 68" or larger, to allow multiple parts to be machined at the same time.

Floor mill: These have a row of rotary tables, and a horizontal pendant spindle mounted on a set of tracks that runs parallel to the table row. These mills have predominantly been converted to CNC, but some can still be found (if one can even find a used machine available) under manual control. The spindle carriage moves to each individual table, performs the machining operations, and moves to the next table while the previous table is being set up for the next operation. Unlike other mills, floor mills have movable floor units. A crane drops massive rotary tables, X-Y tables, etc., into position for machining, allowing large and complex custom milling operations.

Gantry mill :The milling head rides over two rails (often steel shafts) which lie at each side of the work surface.

Horizontal boring mill: Large, accurate bed horizontal mills that incorporate many features from various machine tools. They are predominantly used to create large manufacturing jigs, or to modify large, high precision parts. They have a spindle stroke of several (usually between four and six) feet, and many are equipped with a tailstock to perform very long boring operations without losing accuracy as the bore increases in depth. A typical bed has X and Y travel, and is between three and four feet square with a rotary table or a larger rectangle without a table. The pendant usually provides between four and eight feet of vertical movement. Some mills have a large (30" or more) integral facing head. Right angle rotary tables and vertical milling attachments are available for further flexibility.

Jig borer :Vertical mills that are built to bore holes, and very light slot or face milling. They are typically bed mills with a long spindle throw. The beds are more accurate, and the handwheels are graduated down to .0001" for precise hole placement.

Knee mill: or knee-and-column mill refers to any milling machine whose x-y table rides up and down the column on a vertically adjustable knee. This includes Bridgeports.

Planer-style mill Large mills built in the same configuration as planers except with a milling spindle instead of a planing head. This term is growing dated as planers themselves are largely a thing of the past.

Ram-type mill: This can refer to any mill that has a cutting head mounted on a sliding ram. The spindle can be oriented either vertically or horizontally. In practice most mills with rams also involve swiveling ability, whether or not it is called "turret" mounting. The Bridgeport configuration can be classified as a vertical-head ram-type mill. Van Norman specialized in ram-type mills through most of the 20th century. Since the wide dissemination of CNC machines, ram-type mills are still made in the Bridgeport configuration (with either manual or CNC control), but the less common variations (such as were built by Van Norman, Index, and others) have died out, their work being done now by either Bridgeport-form mills or machining centers.

Turret mill: More commonly referred to as Bridgeport-type milling machines. The spindle can be aligned in many different positions for a very versatile, if somewhat less rigid machine.


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