Small Milling Machines
Milling machines are basically used for machining solid materials. Milling machines work in such a way that work pieces are fed toward the mill cutter. There are two general classifications of the milling machine which include the vertical milling machine and the horizontal milling machine. Although these two general types are similar in function, the mechanisms differ, specifically the feeding process of the work pieces, and the orientation of the axis. Milling machines work in such a way that work pieces are feed toward the mill cutter.
From the two general classifications, there are also other types of milling machines that may be classified as vertical or horizontal. In machine shops, both the vertical and the horizontal mills are used in manufacturing various products and workpieces. Moreover, most of these milling machines range from medium to large size. However, there are milling machines that are used by hobbyists and small machine shops that range from small to medium size.
These small milling machines are still capable of drilling, planning, cutting gears, routing, and boring among others; but only in a smaller scale. One of the advantages of a small milling machine is its portability. Since the machine is smaller than the standard mills used in shops, these weigh less. Therefore it becomes very convenient for the machinist to transfer these machines around when such a need arises.
Another advantage is the cost. Correspondingly because these milling machines are small, the cost is also cheaper and more affordable. For small scale drilling, planning, and routing jobs, smaller milling machines are the best options.
Finally, because these milling are smaller, the space requirement is much less also. In fact, some of these machines can even be placed at one small corner of the shop, or house for that matter.
On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages of small milling machines. One of these disadvantages is its functional limitation. Consequently, because of the small size, the other components of these machines are small also, putting a limitation on what it can do. Most small milling machines are used in 1/2" drilling, 1/2" end mills & 1" facing. Its small size also limits the size of the work pieces that can be worked on with these machines.
Another disadvantage is operator restriction. Operators of small milling machines do not have the freedom that they can have when working with large mills. In fact the usual spindle-to-table distance of small milling machines is around 15 inches. Thus, with a limited working area, the movement of the operator is also limited.
Finally, the conventional small milling machines are not recommended for heavy duty usage and rigorous operation. Since these small mills have smaller motors, there are certain limitations to its working capacity.
However, the disadvantages of small milling machines are already rectified in the new breed of small and micro milling machines that are being introduced in the market. These machines use the most advanced techniques that are being employed in other mills. The materials and the design integrated into these machines overcome the limitations of small milling machines. Moreover, despite the size, these micro mills are rigid, precise, and are used in heavy duty operations.
Fig.1. Parts of the Boring Head of a Small Milling Machine
Fig.2. Small Milling Machine