Buying a used CNC or milling machine is a big investment, and there are a lot of important factors to consider before making a purchase. Use this basic guide to buying used milling machines and parts to help you get started.
The first thing you want to do when shopping for a used milling machine is to determine your budget. This can make any subsequent decisions much easier, as it narrows down the large number of options. Remember to include the cost of shipping when making your decision, as milling machines are very heavy and shipping fees can be hefty.
The two basic types of milling machines are vertical and horizontal. The type you will want to purchase depends primarily on the type of cutting you intend on performing with the machine.
Vertical mills are a newer form of milling machine that work by employing a die sinking method. Vertical mills, as the name suggests, use a vertical plane for cutting and come in three basic categories.
1. Turret Mills
One of the most versatile types of mills, the turret mill is useful for small, detailed designs. It uses a moving table with a stationary spindle that can be used in the same way as you would use a drill press.
2. Bed Mills
The bed mill is similar to the turret mill, with the main difference being that the table can only move perpendicularly with the machine. This limits the capabilities, compared to a turret mill, but can be a more economical option for someone who does not need to perform any parallel cutting.
For a lighter, cheaper, and smaller option, you’ll want to explore the option of a used mill-drill. Great for hobby shops and amateur machinists, the mill-drill is relatively inexpensive and is essentially a ‘desktop milling machine.’
Horizontal mills have been around for much longer than their vertical counterparts and are primarily used for long, large projects. Horizontal mills are great for creating the spirals, bezels, and grooves often seen on nuts, washers, screws, and bolts. Most frequently employed to create piping and gears, horizontal mills have a number of useful applications.
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