CNC Milling Machine – BUYER’s GUIDE


April 16, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ CNC Machine


angular milling module

CNC Milling Machine

If you already know milling machine and just want to seek buying tips, you can visit the chapter – things to consider when choosing a milling machine, and chapter – a short list of milling machine manufacturers.

Milling is referred to a metal cutting process, it uses spinning mill cutters to cut off the layer of raw surface of a metal component, for the purpose of obtaining a finished component of desired sizes and accuracy. A milling machine is the machine that carries out such milling process, a CNC milling machine is a machine controlled and operated by a CNC system – computer numerical control system. In simple words, a CNC milling machine is a computer controlled, programmable milling machine.

 

cnc mill vertical

overview of a cnc milling machine

 

For a CNC mill to work, it needs the essential elements in place: 1) the mill machine; 2) CNC control; 3) the milling cutters (tools); 4) workpiece (the component to be cut, or machined, or milled); 5) fixtures to fix the workpiece on the milling table. Each of the elements is a system itself and consists its own parts or sub systems. Besides, human resources are require to program the milling processes in CNC, and operate and monitor the machine in operation. The CNC can and will programmably control the machine moving (more precisely, feeding), tool changing, coolant applying, chip conveying etc to complete the milling process.

Machining is the general term of various cutting techniques of metal, these techniques include milling, turning, boring, drilling, tapping, grinding, honing, polishing, etc. People quickly realized they can program CNC automatic tool changer to use different tools for different cutting task – turning tools for turning operation, boring tools for boring, drills for drilling etc. This evolve the modern CNC milling machine into a machining center. One machine can perform all the tasks, avoiding to send the workpiece to a series of different machines for different machining processes. CNC milling machine is the base, the prototype of machining centers.

With more automation in tool preparing, workpiece preparing, materials handling, individual machining centers can be further integrated into automated machining cell, or further into flexible manufacturing (machining) system, which allows fully automated parts machining.

Table of content
1. What is a milling machine
1.1 Milling as a process
1.2 Materials to cut
1.3 Purpose of milling
1.4 Construction of milling machine
1.4.1 Milling machine bed
1.4.2 Milling machine column
1.4.3 Milling machine crossrail
1.4.4 Milling machine ram
1.4.5 Milling machine spindle
1.4.6a Milling table – linear
1.4.6b Milling table -rotary
1.4.6c Milling table -swivel
1.4.7 CNC computer numerical control
1.4.8 Electric cabinet
1.4.9 Servo motors, Linear drives, Ball screws
1.4.10 Hydraulic system
1.4.11 Chip conveyor
1.4.12 Milling head, milling modules
1.4.13 Tool magazine
1.4.14 Automatic tool changer
1.4.15 Workpiece fixtures
1.4.16 Machine foundation
1.5 Mill cutters
1.6 Milling machine as a system
2. Types of milling machine
2.1 Manual mill vs cnc mill
2.2 Vertical mill vs horizontal mill
2.3 Single column mill vs double column mill
2.4 Table mill vs floor mill
2.5 General mill vs special purpose mill
2.6 3 axis milling vs 5 axis milling
2.7 Conventional milling vs machining center
2.8 Industrial mill vs hobby mill
3. Milling applications
3.1 Industrial components
3.2 Personal components
3.3 Prototypes
4. Typical industries using milling machines
4.1 Machinery building
4.2 Aircraft, aerospace
4.3 Automobile, vehicle
4.4 Energy plant
4.5 Chemical plant
4.6 Defense industry
4.7 Shipbuilding
4.8 Tool making
4.9 Die & mould
4.10 Home or commercial appliance
4.11 Healthcare
4.12 Consumer products
5. How to choose a milling machine
5.1 Plan ahead
5.2 Quality components
5.3 Experienced mill manufacturer
5.4 Application knowledge
5.5 Quality mill machine
5.6 Product review
5.7 Enterprise standing
5.8 Service
5.9 Spare parts
5.10 RFQ from multiple suppliers
5.11 Price
5.12 Terms
6. Manufacturers, specs, reviews
7. Request for quote
8. Review a manufacturer
9. Additional resource

What is a milling machine

Milling as a process

Milling process is essentially a process of surface flatting via cutting, by cutting off the materials on a raw object’s surface, you get a manufactured object with precise dimensions, high surface quality, and desired shape. For example, many of today’s metal case of mobile phones are cut by high precision milling machine. The input (workpiece) is a raw metal/alloy rectangular block, the output is a precise, smooth, shinning smartphone back case.

 

milling a surface by a machine spindle spinning milling cutters.

milling a surface by a machine spindle spinning milling cutters.

 

Milling is performed by 1) milling machine spindle that spins at a certain speed; 2) milling tool body that is inserted into, held by, and spin with the spindle; 3) multiple milling cutters, also called mill inserts, mill tips that are inserted into the bottom of tool body, these cutters are doing the hard job of cutting off materials from metal surface, therefore they must be made of harder materials than its cutting object; 4)the machine is moving (feeding) the workpiece linearly to be cut by spinning mill cutters.

Materials to cut

Milling is primarily applied in cutting metals such as iron, steel, alloys.

There is also wood milling machine for wood surface cutting.

Other materials for milling can be plastics, ceramics, diamond, and other synthetic materials.

Purpose of milling

Milling, as well as other machining process, is for purpose of making a precise component out of a raw material. The precision is mostly demanded in the dimension of the components (length, width, height, depth, 3D surface profile etc.), also in the surface finishing quality.

Only after milling will the precise workpieces become suitable to be installed or assembled into a bigger system, for instance, an engine block (workpiece) be integrated into an engine.

See also:

Milling explained
How milling machines work

Composition of a milling machine

An industrial milling machine is usually composed of the following major parts, a milling machine for hobby project has the similar structure but in much simpler design.

 

Longitudinal milling-boring machine UZTS

A CNC gantry milling machine.

Construction of a milling machine

Milling machine bed

Machine bed is a base the machine is sitting on, for medium to heavy machines the beds are usually made of cast iron for better stress relieving and vibration absorption; for light machines the beds can be made of steel structure (welded); for very small milling machines there can be no bed.

Machine bed is, together with other parts, accountable for a machine’s overall accuracy. It must be solid, rigid, and quiet because you can be sure there will be a lot of vibration generated during the machining process, you want the bed to absorb the shock, not co-vibrate or even amplify it.

Machine bed provides a base for the machine table to set on, sometimes it also a base for the whole machine to sit on. For very large machines, people make multiple beds and build them together.

Milling machine column

A machine column is laid perpendicular on the machine bed, or side by side with it. It provides a base for machine ram, or machine spindle, or both to be nested on.

Machines can be designed with a single column, double column – double column milling machine; fix column, traveling column – traveling column milling machine.

Milling machine crosbeam

The machine crossrail is only necessary for portal machine design, it is to connect the 2 machine columns to make it a portal milling machine, or also known as gantry milling machine.

The crossrail can travel up and down providing Z axis movement, driven by the servo motor attached to the 2 columns respectively.

There is a subtle difference between the portal milling and gantry milling. Portal milling machine refers to the columns being fix while the tables traveling, while the gantry milling machine refers to the columns traveling while the tables are fix.

Milling machine ram

The machine ram is attached to machine crossrail to provide linear moving (Y axis) along the crossrail; when the crossrail isn’t present, such as in the single column design or some double columns design, the ram is attached directly to the machine column to provide in & out movement (Y axis) and up & down movement (Z axis).

Milling machine spindle

 

main spindle

A milling machine spindle with tapping tool

 

The machine spindle is probably the most vital part of a machine, it provides the spinning at certain speed (rpm – rotation per minute) and torque (KW or HP), so the spun cutting tools can apply cutting force on a workpiece’s surface.

The spindle is usually driven by a motor and gearbox so it can spin at desired speed and/or designed torque. The cutting tools are to be fixed into the hollow spindle at its front end, after one tool finishes its job, an automatic tool changer will fetch the next tool, unload the current tool and load the new tool into the spindle.

Milling table with x linear axis

Work table is another important part of a metal working machine, it is necessary to place the workpiece on top of it. The table is driven by servo motors, linear drives, ball screws, so it can move linearly along the machine’s guideway (X axis).

There are slots or T-slots on the table surface, these slots provides anchors for fixtures to clamp the workpiece on the table tightly.

The size of work table defines the maximum size of the workpiece a machine can do machining. If the table is 1 meter long times 1 meter wide, that pretty much limits the size of the component you can machine, you can’t go much beyond its size limit. Therefore, when buying a milling machine, regardless new or used, you want to make some room for larger component machining you might encounter in the future.

Milling table rotary programmably

 

cnc rotary table

A rotary table

 

In many machine designs, the milling table can be rotated around a single axis either freely or programmably (NC rotary table, or CNC rotary table),so the workpiece on it will rotate precisely per the CNC instructions, and the machine column, the ram, the spindle provides the linear movements necessary for surface milling.

It is the rotary table that enables the milling machine to perform turning operations – while the workpiece is turning the cutters can move linearly to cut the outer diameter. Milling + turning is combined into one machine by the rotary table.

Milling table swiveling programmably

A work table that rotate around 2 axis programmably is called swiveling table. One axis is its center line of its disk, another axis can be parallel to its disk surface, both rotations are programmable by CNC programs. These 2 swiveling axis, together with the 3 linear axis – X, Y, Z axis, makes the machine a 5 axis milling machine, or 5 axis machining center to manufacture components with complex 3D surfaces, such as a compressor blades, turbine blades, propeller blades.

CNC (Computer Numerical Control)

 

MCFH 40 CNC - control panel (2)

A CNC control panel next to electric cabinet.

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, it is either an industrial computer or a customized workstation that can work in the harsh environment of machining shop. People write programs into the CNC, and CNC execute the programs, driving the machine to perform various tasks of machining, tool changing, waste conveying, etc. Modern CNC can generate machining programs directly from a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file, which makes it a very efficient CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) system.

Electric cabinet

Electric cabinet can be viewed as part of the CNC, it stores all the electric boards and wires that the computer need to drive and get feedback from the servo motors. In general, a computer can only generate digital signals, or electronic pulse, it can not drive the machine directly. With the help of all the electric boards to amplify the signal, the CNC commands can be translated into executable instructions for the servo motor, which drives the machine’s axis.

Servo motors, Linear drives, Ball screws

 

cnc stepper motor, cnc servomotor

cnc stepper motor, a variation of servomotor

 

Servo motor, also known as servomotor, is a programmable motor that can be programmed to accurately rotate an angle (rotary actuation) or to precisely progress a displacement (linear actuation). Servomotor is the key to move machine axis a precise distance or a precise angle, therefore machining the components to the precise dimension, shape, and surface quality.

Linear drives can be part of the servomotor, or can be a standalone electro mechanic device that transform the motor’s rotary motion to linear motion.

Ball screw is a fine mechanical screw that transform the motor’s rotary motion to linear motion along the machine’s axis. Ball screws must be highly precise, hardened, fine ground to be capable of accurate linear motion.

Hydraulic system

 

coolant supply by hydraulic system

Coolant supply to cool down the temperature cased by machining

 

A hydraulic system is necessary for a industrial machine for 2 reasons. First, it needs to supply coolant (cooling liquid) during the machining to cool down the temperature of the metal surface of tools and workpiece, it also needs to recycle the coolants to be reused; second, some machines are designed with hydraulic cylinders, hydrostatic systems, in which cases a central hydraulic system must be in place to provide such functions.

Chip conveyor

Chips are generated as a result of metal cutting, these are the small swarf removed off the workpiece. 2 chip conveyors are usually installed alongside of work tables, they are moving (conveying) the chips dropped on top of them towards a waste bin at the end.

Milling head, Milling modules

 

angular milling module

A angular milling head

 

Milling head is a design only in some milling machines, not all. With the design, a milling module is placed into the machine ram, interconnected with spindle to carry out complex machining jobs. This brings 2 major advantages: 1) it makes the milling machine really versatile, really flexible to perform any cutting imaginable – milling, drilling, turning, boring, threading, inside or outside of any workpiece of complex shapes; 2) a swiveling milling head provides the 2 programmable rotating axis to carry out the 5 axis machining of a heavy component, for instant, a large propeller blades. Usually these components are so heavy, or the machine is so heavy or big that making a swiveling table isn’t a good option.

Tool magazine

tools magazine rack type

Multiple milling, drilling, boring, tapping tools on tool rack

 

Cutting tools are stored in a tool magazine, a tool magazine can be of chain style, drum style, rack style, a typical milling machine can have a magazine size from 48 to 120 tools.

Automatic tool changer

The automatic tool changer is a simple robot, it is programmed to transport and install tools between magazines and spindles, back and forth. Its motion is CNC programmed.

Workpiece fixtures

The fixture is a set of clamping device to fix the workpiece on the work table.

Machine foundation

It is worth mentioning that the foundation is vital for the machine’s performance, unless you are installing a benchtop milling machine, or a micro milling machine, you need a strong, solid foundation made of certain cement with certain depth for the machine to sit on. You don’t want the machine to sink and tilt on a soft foundation over time, because you will lose accuracy and even the entire functionality of a machine when the tilting is too large.

Below is a video demonstracting the construction of a 3 axis milling machine.

Mill cutters

 

milling tool

A complete tool with tool holder, tool body, 8 milling cutters (inserts, tips)

 

The mill cutters are doing the actual cutting, so they worth a mention. Mill cutters are the small sharp inserts that go into the milling tool’s body, they must be harder than its milling objects. The making of mill cutters are a contest of material science. If the workpiece is made of steel, the mill cutters must be special alloy that are tougher than steel, if the workpiece is made of diamond, the mill cutters must be tougher than diamond! There are only a few specialized manufacturers who can make high quality milling cutters, although you can source them from many dealers.

Mill cutters will be worn out over time, when that happens you need to re-sharp your cutters with a tool grinding machine, or you have to spend on new supplies periodically.

Milling machine as a system

We’ve laid out the 16 major sub systems to make a complete milling machine, note that each sub system further consists of many parts, these parts are equally important to make the overall quality of a milling machine. For instance, the guideway is part of the machine bed as it is installed and aligned on the bed, it must be fine ground, aligned perfectly with minimum tolerance of error, otherwise the machine table or column will travel on uneven or inaccurate guideways, which is no way for the machine to achieve a high accuracy.

Further reading:

Milling process explained

Types of milling machine

Manual vs CNC

Milling machine is invented as a manual milling machine – a machine that is operated by a human operator moving the axis to cut metals.

Over time the manual milling machines evolve to CNC mills which are operated by computerized numerical control system. Today most milling machines, even those for home project, or desktop mills are CNC controlled.

Vertical milling vs horizontal milling

When the main spindle is laid out perpendicularly, or vertically to the table, the machine is called a vertical milling machine, or vertical machining center (VMC).

 

vertical mill

a vertical milling machine

 

When the machine spindle is laid out parallel to the work table, the machine is a horizontal milling machine, horizontal machining center (HMC).

Single column mill vs double column mill

Most small and medium sized milling machines have a single column design.

A machine with double column design is called double column milling machine.

If a crossrail is used to connect the 2 columns, the machine becomes a portal milling machine, or gantry milling machine.

A portal milling machine usually means the machine table is moving, while the columns are fixed.

A gantry milling machine usually means the table is fixed while the 2 columns are moving back and forth to execute the machining.

Table mills vs floor mills

A table mill refers to a machine with table sitting and traveling on the machine bed.

A floor mill refers to a machine with table sitting directly on the workshop floor, it is often laid out this way for machining heavy duty, large components. A floor mill is also known as floor type milling machine, or floor type boring and milling machine.

General mills vs special purpose mills

A general milling machine is the most versatile machine for a wide array of components, materials, shapes. For example, a general mill can use one set of milling head and tools to produce engine blocks, then change to another set of milling head and tools to produce compressor blades.

For the workshops that are specialized in manufacturing one type of component, it is more effective to employ special purpose milling machine to achieve greater productivity.

Some examples of special purpose mills:

1. Crankshaft milling machine
2. Camshaft milling machine
3. Slot milling machine
4. Slot slitting machine
5. Groove milling machine
6. Keyway milling machine
7. Profile milling machine
8. Multi spindle milling machine

3 axis milling vs 5 axis milling

 

Machining 5-axis

5 axis machining by swiveling head

Milling machines differ in their axis control complexity – 3 axis, 4 axis, 5 axis CNC mill, or 6 axis machining center.

5 axis machining is a technology to drive 5 machine axis to move simultaneously to machine complex 3D shapes of workpiece, such as compressor blades, propeller blades, turbine blades, etc. It requires a machine to be equipped with 5 axis control, also a electric board to synchronize the motion of 5 axis.

Conventional milling vs machining center

Nowadays, most modern CNC milling machines are machining centers, they can execute various types of cutting techniques – milling, drilling, turning, boring, tapping, chamfering – by interchanging machining modules and cutting tools.

A machining center can be built out of a milling machine, alternatively, it can be built out of a cnc lathe (CNC turning machine).

It is worth noting that a machining center can be expanded to a fully automated machining cell by adding automatic pallet changing, automatic material handler. These automated cells can be further built out to become a flexible manufacturing line.

Industrial vs hobby

So far we focus our introduction on industrial milling machines, but in recent years a market for hobby projects has emerged, which result in the emerging of a lot of milling machines for home projects, such as:

1. Benchtop milling machine
2. Desktop cnc milling machine
3. Tabletop milling machine
4. Micro milling machine
5. Small CNC mill
6. Knee mill
7. Home milling machine
8. CNC router

Further reading:

Types of Milling Machines

Milling methods & machines

Milling applications

Industrial components

Milling is used to produce a huge variety of industrial components, every industry that employ metal components need milling machines to make them. Some examples of industrial components are: machinery parts, vehicle parts, motor parts, valves, pumps, transmission parts (gear box, gear shaft), tool making, die & mold making etc.

Personal components

Recently it is increasingly popular for people to install milling machines in their garage or basement to produce components for hobby projects, such as making parts of drone, of robot, or a prototype of any creative idea. Other examples of personal components are artificial tooth, jewelry – many of which are the the workpiece machined by small, precise CNC milling machines.

Prototypes

Milling machines are often used in scientific and industrial labs for fast prototyping. Ideas, concepts, designs need to go through series of test and prototype phases before being sent to production.

Typical industries using milling machines

Machinery building

Yes we use machines to build machines, it sounds circular but it is true. A big application of milling machine is in the machine tools industry itself. The machine bed, the column, the guideway, the ram, are all manufactured by milling machines.

Machinery of civil engineering is another big client for milling machine manufactures: the bulldozer, the evacuator, the forklight, the crane – all the major parts of these equipments need to be machined by heavy duty CNC mills.

Texitle machinery, printing machinery, their components first need to be machined to the precise dimensions and shapes before the final assembly, these industries use milling machines.

The list goes on and on, where there is a machinery building, there is a need for mill machine to manufacture its components.

Aircraft & aerospace

Aerospace and aircraft industry is a heavy user for 5 axis cnc mills, large and small, heavy duty and light duty. These complex components include plane structures, engine governors, hydraulic manifolds, transmission parts. Many aircraft parts must meet the stringent aerodynamic properties, so they need high precision 5 axis cnc machine, or even 6 axis machine to manufacture.

Automobile & vehicle

Automobile industry is probably the no.1 user of cnc milling due to its shear size – millions of new cars are produced every year, they are all of the similar internal structure – engines, transmissions, steerings, car body, chasis, etc. Most of the components are made of metal or alloy, they need to be cut to the precise dimensions by milling machines and other metal working machines, so they can be assembled together to perform its due functions.

Trucks and special vehicles employs the similar structure of a car, they are essentially just larger and heavier, no wonder all their components need heavy CNC mills to process.

Typical automobile parts for milling: engine block, cylinder head, crankshaft, camshaft, piston rods, water pumps, gearbox housing, gear shaft, flywheels etc.

Energy equipment

Energy equipment is a user of heavy duy milling machines, often in forms of portal mills, gantry mills, plano mills, or floor mills, since their components, such as large electric motors, turbine engines, rotors, blades, or boiler plates, are often huge and heavy, they need huge machines, and 5 axis machining capability to process the complex 3D profiles.

Typical energy generator parts for milling include turbine housing, rotor shaft, rotor blades, valves.

Chemical equipment

Chemical plant commonly employs pressure device such as compressors, pumps, valves, pipes, fittings, flanges for producing chemical reactions, all these devices are the workpieces of a CNC mill.

Defense industry

Defense is clearly an important industry for milling machines, just imagine how many parts of a military tank – its engine, its transmission, its turret, its housing – can be made without milling machines. Think about all other military equipments, vehicles, aircraft, war ships, none of them will be in service without milling machines.

Shipbuilding

Ships are full of mechanical equipment: its vessels, its power supply, engine systems, its navigation system, its propelling system, its onboard equipment etc. It is very common for one shipyard to deploy multiple machining shops to machine the components for these equipment.

Tool making

Tools are used to cut metals, they must be strong, sharp, and in good shape. It is inevitable for the tools to wear out after some time in cutting, so CNC tool milling machines, and special tool grinding machines are required to repair and sharpen the tools periodically.

Die & mould

Die & mold are the base model for mass production of components, they are often needed in making parts of by the process of injection molding, blow molding, stamping, forging, so the final components will be stamped, forged, or formed by its mold. Die and mold themselves need to be milled, sometimes ground, surface treated, and heat treated themselves. Milling machines are the essential equipment in a die & mold shop for both production and prototyping.

Home or commercial appliance

Some mechanical components of home applicances such as refrigerator or washer or dish wahser are the machined products of CNC mills, typical components include compressor housing, compressor blades, motor housing, motor shaft, etc.

Medical equipment & Healthcare

The metal components inside the medical device are likely manufactured by milling machines and other metal cutting machines. Many of the artificial teeth, hip joints, knees etc are manufactured by cnc mill center or cnc turn mills.

Consumer products

One example is jewelry, some diamonds are manufactured by micro, precise CNC mills; another example is the cell phone part, many of the metal cases are manufactured by CNC mill center.

Further reading:

Applications of milling machines

How to choose a milling machine

The following advice is not just for milling machines, it applies to all types of machine tools, no matter it is a cnc lathe, or cnc mill, or drilling machine, machining center, jig borer, or any other machine tools.

Plan ahead

The first thing, as always, is to have a good plan, and you’d better plan ahead a bit. For instance, will the size of your workpiece likely increase in the future? If so, is the machine specification large enough for it?

You also should consider extensibility, for example, if 3 axis machine is all you need now, will the machine be extendable to 5 axis machine? Can the CNC be upgraded? Can the machine builder supply swivel head or swivel table?

The same principle goes to other specs:

Does the machine have sufficient power?

Is its tool capacity big enough for present and future?

Is its CNC system compatible with your existing CAD/CAM software? Can its CNC “read” your CAD files?

Quality components

The quality of a machine is largely determined by its components – the bed, the column, the spindle, the guideway, the servomotor, the ball screw, the CNC etc. In fact, a machine manufacturer is a system integrator, it sources the various parts from their suppliers, and integrate them into a machine. One way to build cheap milling machines or any cheap cnc machines is to source most components from China, India etc. So the question for you is: is it what you really want? When evaluating a cnc machine for sale, it is always smart to ask what’s the brand and maker of each major parts, you want them to come from reputable manufacturers. A list of parts suppliers is a fair good indicator of the quality of the machine.

Experienced machine manufacturer

Machine tool building requires knowledge and expertise, not all of them are written on textbooks, many know how are in people’s mind, being taught by masters to apprentice, or by senior engineers to junior engineers. New machine builders aren’t necessarily bad, some even have better ideas, but a manufacturer of rich tradition is more predicable, more reliable, or both. It is a stronger indicator of quality products. If possible you always want to deal with a company who makes a living by building machine tools for many years.

Application knowledge

You want to choose a machine tool builder who has a lot of experience machining your type of components, e.g. if you manufacture turbine housing, you want your machine supplier to have served many other turbine manufacturers, so you can take advantage of their expertise. If you ask and pay, they can provide you with proven solutions – machining processes, tools, CNC programs – to machine your components. You can eliminate a lot of uncertainties in machining a complex workpiece.

How to know if a machine builder is good at a job? Ask them! When they say things about it you will know. Also, ask for a list of customers of this field they ever supplied machines to.

Quality machine

Next thing to look at is the quality of the machine, a good machine builder can make the machine robust, reliable, accurate, smooth, error-free. You should read carefully the machine specifications: its power specification, maximum workload, axis specification, motion accuracy, etc. Another area to look is the machine’s robustness when it’s doing heavy operations, is it still stable? any abnormal noise? any abnormal parameter reading? any malfunction? How do you get observe it before you even purchase a machine? Well, if you make an important purchase, you should ask to visit a workshop with machines in production, this way you can get an intuitive but often helpful idea about its quality.

Product review

You should try to find product reviews on the worldwide web for the machine you want to buy, see how other people – often the machine users – think about it. It would be extremely helpful information. Unfortunately there aren’t many industrial machine reviews available. Wikimachine is making effort to change it, we endeavor to create a review page for each and every machines out there, you are welcome to check back to our site for such information.

Enterprise standing

A more explicit advice is to look at the machine builder’s financial standing. It is for your interest as a machine buyer that your machine supplier will operate years ahead.

Service availability

First, you should have a one year or two year warranty for the new purchase; second, you want to have a service contract for onsite technical support, parts replacement etc within 24/48 hours of machine failure. Remember the machine is working in harsh environment and it can and will failure, small or big, you want a good service agreement to ensure your uptime.

A rule of thumb is always to purchase a machine from a manufacturer with local service center in your area, with qualified staff and spare parts reserve.

Spare parts

You want the parts of machine to be available, to be within your reach when you need it. For example, if you are in North America, should you buy a machine equipped with a newly developed Chinese CNC system? Probably not, not because the Chinese CNC is no good, but because if the CNC is down, or one circuit board is broke, they may have to ship a new one to you overseas, it is just not as easy as getting a new CNC from a warehouse within one hour’s drive of your workshop.

Request for quotes from multiple manufacturers

Buying a machine is an important investment, so you want to make sure you do your due dilligence. You should request for quotes from at least 3 suppliers, compare their quote descriptions, specifications, pricing, ask them questions, you will get a pretty good idea of which supplier makes more sense for you.

Price

After doing all the above research, you should be smart enough to get yourself a good pricing.

Terms of payment

You should try to make payments in tranches, e.g. step by step, fist make a downpayment, another payment before the machine is shipped to you, and a final payment after your inspect the machine in good condition. Usually the final step involves in doing a real production with the machine, if it indeed produces the workpiece to your specifications, it is considered to be good.

Further reading:

Buying a metal milling machine for the hobbyist

Choosing a milling and drilling machine

How to use a milling machine

Milling Machine Manufacturers

The number of milling machine manufacturers worldwide is at the level of hundreds, you can look at our partial list of milling manufacturers in our manufacturers directory.

For your convenience, here’s a short list of milling machine manufacturers according to the size, type of machines, country of origin, and product reviews (if any).

ManufacturerHQSizeV/HAxisU/SSpecialModelPriceNote
Grizzly Industrial Inc.USAmicrovertical3universal
Micro-MarkUSAmicrovertical3universal
SIEG Industrial GroupChinamicrovertical3universal
Nano CorpJapanmicrohorizontal3universal
TORMACHUSAsmallvertical5universal
Kugler GmbHGermanysmallhorizontal5bothflycutting
DATRON AGGermanymediumvertical5bothdental
HURCOGermanymediumboth5universal
HAAS CNCUSAmediumboth5universal
MAZAKJapanmediumboth5universal
DMG MoriGermanymediumboth5universal
HellerGermanylargeboth5bothcrankshaft, camshaft
DANOBOTSpainlargeboth5universal
PAMA MachineItalylargehorizontal5universal
CNC MastersUSAsmallvertical3universalCNC Baron$6,250.00
SaporitiItalymediumvertical3specialthread, worm
Liechti EngineeringSwitzerlandmediumhorizontal5special3D Profile
GFSwitzerlandmediumvertical5universalMicron
Waldrich CoburgGermanylargevertical5universalChina Owned
Shanghai SunmoreChinasmallvertical3universal
Weihai Huadong AutomationChinalargeboth3universal
WZChinalargeboth3bothrail, aluminum ingotaluminum ingot
Qinghai HuadingChinalargeboth3universal
CR OnsrudUSAmediumvertical5universal
Newway CNCChinamediumboth5universal
Victor MachineryUSAmediumvertical3universal
Shandong Weida HeavyChinamediumboth3universal
Nantong No.5 Machine ToolsChinamediumvertical3universal
Beijing Red FlagChinamediumvertical3specialauger attack, valve catheter, deep hole
Kasuga SeikiTaiwanmediumvertial5universal
WMW MachineryUSAmediumboth3universal
Dalian Machine ToolsChinamediumboth3bothcrankshaft, piston
Starrag GroupSwitzerlandlargeboth5both
Microlution IncUSAmicroboth5bothdeep hole
Crankshaft MachineUSAlargeboth3specialcrankshaft, camshaft
Clausing IndustrialUSAsmallboth3universal
Cincinnati GilbertUSAlargehorizontal3universal
American GFMUSAlargeboth3bothcrankshaft, camshaft
Acer SpringwoodUSAmediumvertical3universalTaiwan made
Weiss MachineryChinasmallboth3universal
Tacchi GiacomoItalylargeboth3bothdeep hole
SpinnerGermanymediumvertical3universal
SchiessGermanylargeboth5universalChina Owned
RafametPolandlargevertical3universal
KrewemaGermanymediumvertical3bothtube
Heinrich GeorgGermanylargevertical5bothsheet metal, slitting
Dalian FulltonChinamediumboth3universal
FramagAustriamediumboth3special
ChevalierTaiwanmediumboth3universal
Pietro CarnaghiItalylargevertical5universal
Ace MicromaticIndiamediumboth3universal
Accut MachineryChinalargeboth3universal
SordoniItalylargeboth3bothtransfer, thread, slot
Famar GroupItalymediumboth3bothtransfer
Ching Hung MachineryTaiwanmediumvertical3universalhigh speed
Tenzhou Tri UnionChinasmallvertical3universal
FermatCzechmediumhorizontal3universal
EGWGermanymediumvertical3universal
AZ SpaItalymediumvertical3universal
MpvosaItalymediumvertical3universal
Nantong JiarongChinamediumvertical3universal
Maschinen WagnerGermanymediumvertical5universal
LazzatiItalylargehorizontal5universal
Kunming Machine ToolsChinalargeboth3universal
Cheto CorpPortugalmediumvertical5specialdeep hole
Holroyd PrecisionUKmediumhorizontal3specialrotor
HabramaGermanymediumvertical3specialprofile, gear
ZimmermannGermanymediumboth5universal
ZayerSpainlargeboth5universal
Yih ChuanTaiwanmediumboth5universal
WitechSwitzerlandsmallvertical5universalengraving
WissnerGermanymediumvertical5universal
Willemin MacodelSwitzerlandmicrovertical5bothdental, watch, jewelry, medical
WFL MillturnAustriamediumvertical5universal
WemasGermanymediumboth5universal
WeingaertnerAustrialargevertical5bothwhirling
VHF CamfactureGermanymediumvertical5universal
Urban MaschinenbauAustriamediumvertical3universal
Union ChemnitzGermanymediumboth3universal
TrimillCzechmediumboth5universal
TOS VarnsdorfCzechmediumvertical3both
TOS KurimCzechlargehorizontal5universal
Tongtai SeikiTaiwanmediumboth3universal
SuginoJapanmediumboth3universal
Skoda Machine ToolCzechlargehorizontal3universal
SHWGermanylargehorizontal5universal
Shin Nippon KokiJapanlargeboth5bothrail, crankshaft, aluminum slab
Shenq Fang YuanTaiwanmediumvertical5universal
SchmollGermanymediumvertical3universal
Rong FuTaiwansmallvertical3universal
RoedersGermanysmallvertical5bothdie, mold, opticals
Rich YoungTaiwanmediumboth3universal
Reiden TechnikSwitzerlandsmallvertical5universal
RechermannGermanymediumboth3universal
RambaudiItalylargeboth5universal
RaisBulgariramediumboth5universal
PromacItalymediumvertical5universal
PrimaconGermanysmallvertical5specialwatch, jewelry
MB PortatecGermanymediumvertical5universal
PinnacleTaiwanmediumvertical5universal
Ping Jeng MachineryTaiwanmediumvertical5universal
PF MachinesSwitzerlandsmallvertical5specialjewelry,diamond
OptimumGermanysmallvertical3universal
OPS IntersollGermanymediumboth5universalhigh speed
Gruppo ParpasItalymediumboth5universal
OKK CorpJapanmediumboth5universal
Niles SimmonsGermanylargeboth5bothcrankshaft, camshaft
Nicolas CorreaSpainlargeboth5universal
NamsunKoreamediumvertical3universal
MuegaGermanymediumboth5universal
MTESpainlargehorizontal3universal
Mitsui Seiki KogyoJapanmediumboth5universal
MikromatGermanymediumvertical5universal
MetromGermanymediumvertical5both
MatecGermanymediumvertical5universal
LilianTaiwanmediumvertical3universal
LangGermanysmallvertical5specialengraving
KunzmannGermanymediumvertical5universal
KovosvitCzechmediumvertical5universal
KnuthGermanymediumvertical5universal
Keppler MaschinenbauGermanymediumhorizontal5bothcylinder head
KekeisenGermanylargeboth5both
Kao MingTaiwanmediumvertical5universal
Kao FongTaiwanmediumboth5universal
JuaristiSpainlargehorizontal5universal
JobsItalylargeboth3universal
Innse BerardiItalylargeboth5bothslot
IMES ICOREGermanysmallvertical5bothdental
Huron GraffenstadenFrancemediumboth5universal
HeyligenstaedtGermanylargeboth5universal
She HongTaiwanmediumboth3universal
HamuelGermanymediumboth5universal
GoratuSpainmediumhorizontal5universal
GoglioItalymediumboth5universal
FrejothTaiwanmediumboth5universal
FPT IndustryItalylargeboth5universal
FPSGermanymediumvertical3universal
FookeGermanymediumvertical5universal
FlexicamGermanymediumvertical5universalrouter
Fives GroupFrancemediumboth5universalprofile, router
First Long ChangTaiwanmediumvertical3universal
FidiaItalylargevertical5universal
FehlmannSwitzerlandsmallvertical5universal
ExeronGermanysmallvertical5universal
EumachTaiwanmediumboth3universal
EmissaSwitzerlandsmallvertical3bothwatch
EmcoAustriamediumvertical5universal
ElhaGermanymediumboth3both
EIMAGermanymediumvertical5universal
DufieuxFrancelargeboth5bothmulti spindle
ColgarItalylargeboth3universal
CMI DurangoSpainlargevertical3universal
CB FerrariItalymediumvertical5universal
BumotecSwitzerlandmediumvertical5universal
AlzmetallGermanylargevertical5universal
Agie CharmillesSwitzerlandmediumvertical5universal
AbeneSwedenmediumboth3universal

Further reading:

Manufacturer of cnc milling machines

Taiwanese milling machine manufacturers

German Machine Tools Suppliers

US Milling Machine Manufacturers

Italian Machine Tool Builders Association

Spanish Machine Tool Builders Association

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