Milling is a popular CNC service in the modern metal fabrication sector. This process is used the develop very common and important products that are used on a daily basis, which a 3D print service can do as well. CNC milling can be done in two ways: horizontally and vertically. For each type there is thus a specific machine that needs to be used. These are called horizontal milling machines and vertical milling machines. In this article these two ways to CNC mill will be compared. Even though the job these machines do are essentially the same, the production process is quite different.
Vertical milling is the type that is the most commonly used. This kind of milling machine consists of a vertically oriented spindle or cutting head. It holds and rotates the cutting tool against the piece that is being worked on. The cutting head is thus oriented vertically, so the other machine parts have to shift along one or more axes in order to move the material in the right place so the machine can mill properly. The spindle will then move up and down. This is needed to remove material, which the cutting head does by pressing against the workpiece.
A horizontal milling machine has a similar design. It also uses a spindle with a rotary cutting tool to remove material by pressing against the part. It does differ from vertical milling in multiple ways. The main difference is the spindle orientation, of course. A vertical milling machine uses a vertical spindle orientation, while the spindle of a horizontal mill is oriented horizontally. Besides that, the two machines vary based on the cutting tools they feature. Horizontal mills usually have shorter and thicker cutting tools, while the vertical mills use cutting tools that are long and thin. Horizontal mills will usually be more capable to perform deeper and heavier cuts due to this.
What is your choice?
As this article shows, both milling machines are quite different. Which one you should depend solely on the type of CNC milling that needs to be done. The size and shape of the part majorly affect the choice, but also the amount of planes on which a piece needs to be worked will play a role. Heavier items will usually be developed with the help of horizontal milling. However, most products can be created with both machines.