Benefits and efficiency of horizontal CNC machining

You may think it doesn’t matter to you what kinds of machines your CNC machine shop has, but it should.  There are distinct differences between horizontal CNC machining and vertical CNC machining and those differences can save you money.

Keeping a Clean Work Area

Horizontal CNC machining has some serious advantages over its vertical cousin.  When a vertical mill cuts on top of a part, swarf (cuttings) can pile up.  That doesn’t stop the mill from doing its job, but it can keep the operator from seeing a problem.  Chip buildup can also lead to surface scratches, especially on plastic parts.  Horizontal mills have fewer such problems because they cut on the sides of parts, allowing chips to fall away from the cutting area.

Cutting Faster and Smarter

Horizontal CNC machining is also faster than vertical milling -often much faster.  One feature of the horizontal mill is the ability to spin the part around on the table.  This allows the part to be milled on all sides without the operator having to reorient it manually.  Not only is that considerably faster; but it is also far more accurate than if an operator has to reposition the part.

Horizontal CNC mills cut at feed rates you simply don’t see on vertical mills.  At Macfab, we use this additional speed to take lighter cuts.  Rather than hogging out large amounts of metal with one pass on a vertical mill, we can take several passes with the horizontal mill and approach the finished surface with greater precision.  Taking less metal off with each cut means there’s less chance for chatter in the bit, and you get a finer surface finish.  The speed of a horizontal mill over a vertical mill is genuinely something to see.  Even taking multiple passes where a vertical mill might take one, the horizontal mill is still faster.  The savings on wear and tear on the tools extend their lives significantly.  Maintaining light-cutting passes can mean completing a job with one bit when the same job would have eaten several tools on another type of machine.  Not only that, but the light passes also mean the horizontal CNC machining can yield a better surface finish in less time.

Keeping the Parts Moving

Four and five-axis horizontal mills like those we have at Macfab allow us to set up a part for milling while one is already being milled.  We can also change tools while milling operations are underway.  Both of these features make the horizontal mills faster than their counterparts.  Our operators and the mills have less downtime.

Horizontal mills are far more expensive than vertical mills, but they pay for themselves with the sheer volume of parts they can output.  Along with our prototyping and small job work, MacFab also does mid-volume production for our clients.  Our horizontal mills are instrumental in giving our customers the precision CNC machining they require in the numbers they need.  Macfab has a long history of investing to stay ahead of our customers’ needs.  Our ongoing investment in horizontal CNC machines is just part of that commitment.


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