To determine whether a horizontal machining centre (HMC) is the machine of choice for your business, firstly we need to determine what is a horizontal machining centre? Also known as milling, horizontal machining applies rotary cutting tools and drills to the workpiece to remove stock material. Unlike vertical machining centres, horizontal machining deploys the machine spindle in the horizontal plane as opposed to vertically.
Should I buy a Horizontal Machining Centre?
Less commonplace than the vertical variant, the horizontal configuration uses gravity to its benefit. The horizontally oriented spindle uses gravity to remove swarf from the immediate work area. By cutting in the horizontal plane, chips automatically fall away from the table, the cutting tool and workpiece. This immediately eradicates the re-cutting of swarf that can collect around the cutting tool and on the surface of the component. By machining horizontally, swarf automatically falls from the component rather than collecting in pockets and other features that would retain waste if it was being machined on a vertical machining centre. This extends to life, improves surface finishes and reduces the need to stop the machine to clear swarf in the work area. This is one of the key reasons why aerospace structural components with significant material removal from pockets are machined on horizontal machine tools as opposed to the vertical type machines.
Another benefit of horizontal machining centres is that the machine bed can accommodate multi-sided fixturing, tombstones and other relatively large clamping devices that would not be suitable for a vertical machining centre. By utilising multi-faced clamping devices and machining, users can clamp more components in a single set up and the axes of travel can be considerably improved. In addition, horizontal machining centres often allow for pallet changer integration, which facilitates unattended operation for prolonged periods. In essence, the horizontal machining centre can be a more expensive option than its vertical counterpart but the benefits of reduced cycle times, cost per part and set-ups as well as improved tool life, swarf evacuation and greater access to the workpiece all culminate to create a greater return on investment.
If you are not sure which direction to take, please contact GM CNC where we have a complete range of machine tools that cover everything from 3-axis to 5-axis vertical machining centres, horizontal machining centres (HMC’s), turning centres and multi-spindle turning centres as well as a host of other machines to meet your needs.
Explore the Victor Horizontal Machining Centres from GM CNC here.