The Different Types of Mill Machine + Maintenance Tips

There’s a wide range of milling machines currently on the market in 2018. Knowing which type to buy can be confusing for a newbie on the scene.

That being said, one of the most popular choices for beginners is the mini mill.

For more information on some of the best models currently available you should head to our recent mini mill review round up.

However, if you are interested in a larger, heavy duty mill machine you should keep on reading.

Today we are going to take a close look at the different types you can buy.

The Plain Horizontal Mill Machine

One of the most common professional standard mill machine available is the plain horizontal milling machine.

This type features a column that contains the drive motor and gearing. It also has a fixed position horizontal milling machine spindle.

The machine will have an adjustable overhead arm that will feature one or more arbors.

The Universal Horizontal Mill Machine

A universal horizontal milling machine is similar to the plain style apart from the fact you will find a table swivel housing between the table and the saddle.

This addition allows the table to swing up to 45° in either direction. This manoeuvrability is specifically designed for angular and helical milling operations.

The universal type mill machine can be fitted with attachments such as the indexing fixture, rotary table, slotting and rack cutting attachments with relative ease.

The Ram-type Milling Machine

The ram-type milling machine has a spindle mounted to a movable housing on the column.

This is designed to allow for the milling cutter to be positioned either forward or rearward in a horizontal plane.

Two of the most popular ram-type milling machines available today are the universal and the swivel cutter head machines

  • Universal ram-type milling machine – similar to the universal horizontal milling machine but with a spindle mounted on a ram or movable housing.
  • Swivel cutter head ram-type milling machine – Here The cutter head containing the milling machine spindle is attached to the ram.

The Knee-type Mill Machine

The knee-type mill machine features a vertically adjustable worktable which rests upon a saddle. This in turn is supported by a knee, thus giving this type of mill its name.

The knee itself is a large adornment to your typical professional mill machine.

It rides vertically on the machine column and can be clamped into place while being fully adjustable.

Plain Vertical Mill Machines

Plain vertical mill machines have a spindle located vertically, parallel to the column face.

This configuration is mounted in a sliding head that is fed up and down via the machines motor.

The machine is designed so that the head can also swivel in order to facilitate milling on angular surfaces.

The turret and swivel head assembly can be swung 360° on its base. Furthermore, angular cuts to the horizontal plane can be carried out by setting the head at any required angle within a 180° arc.

How to take care of your Milling Cutters

After you have purchased your mill machine and got to grips with how to use it, there is also the important issue of maintenance.

Taking care of your milling cutters is an important (and often overlooked) part of the process.

The fact is the life of a milling cutter can be significantly increased by careful use and proper storage.

Let’s take a closer look.

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  • Keep your new cutters wrapped in the oil paper they are delivered in until it is time to use them.
  • Pay attention to the manufacturer’s specifications on what speed the cutter should be used at. Work at too high a speed and you risk scorching or damaging your cutter.
  • You are also likely to damage your cutter through careless use – hitting the jaws of the vise, or coming into contact with the chuck, clamping bolts, or nuts will all lead to wear and tear you could do without.
  • Lubricating your cutter with cutter oil will help prevent overheating and wear.
  • Thoroughly clean your cutter after use and before storing. You should lightly coat your milling cutters with oil too.
  • Dull cutters require more power to work as they should, so try to keep them sharp. This extra power causes more friction and therefore wear and tear.
  • When storing your cutters make sure that the edges cannot strike each other. Avoid having them thrown loose in a drawer.
  • Do not operate a cutter backwards as this can cause damage.


Mill machine safety tips

As with any large machinery in your shop, when operating the mill you need to keep safety in mind.

  • Always wear work glasses and ear defenders
  • Never adjust the workpiece when the machine is in operation.
  • Never tighten arbor nuts with the machine switched on.
  • Wear thin work gloves or hold a piece of rag when installing or removing milling cutters. This will prevent any cuts to your hand.
  • Never make contact with a revolving cutter.
  • Cover the table surface to protect it from damage.
  • Never move heavy attachments solo.
  • Use an appropriate rake and a brush when removing chips from the work-piece.
  • The machine should always be switched off before adjustments are made.
  • Use splash guards when adding cutting oil – a slippery floor around the machine could represent a major risk

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