Costs and Benefits of Horizontal Machining

As the name suggests, horizontal machining is the process of removing material from a workpiece with rotary cutters that operate in a horizontally oriented spindle. It is also known as “horizontal milling” and has shorter and more robust cutting tools in order to achieve deeper and more robust cuts. It occurs on a horizontal machining center (HMC) which is designed for uninterrupted production work.

Horizontal machining is suitable for heavy production work because the table does not have to be cleared since the horizontal orientation makes the chips fall away. Aside from that, this horizontal machining process allows a two-pallet workchanger in which the work and the setup time can be loaded on one pallet while machining occurs on the other pallet. This makes the horizontal machining be able to operate on multiple different parts, and even for different customers at the same time.

When it comes to the cost, horizontal machining centers are actually more expensive than its counterpart, vertical machining centers, because there are additional investments that are important to realize maximum productivity. First, computers are needed for the programming of complex machining routines. The inspection equipment should be suitable for big and complex productions. For the coolant, it requires high pressure coolant delivery which is a great option for chip removal and evacuation. It also needs a tool presetter that can measure tools offline while the machine is cutting, and a tool vending system with automatic reordering of stock items to avoid running out of a needed cutter.

Despite the cost, horizontal machining is undeniably beneficial to the manufacturing industry and some reasons for this are the following:

  • Almost every model has a two-pallet changer that is useful in increasing spindle utilization. Because of this, there is no significant delay between machining cycle for job change-over, making the processing time per part shorter. The job can run on alternate pallets, like loading one pallet while the other runs, making the machine be able to fill the orders for two customers in the same shift.
  • The fixed design of horizontal machining allows it to accelerate fast and have increased repeatability because a horizontal holding a part on a column or tombstone can pivot the work with the help of the B axis to reach different faces in one cycle and with only fewer and simplified setups needed. So, features that relate to one another can often be machined in the same cycle and these reduce the overall production time.
  • Versatility in production because of its large tool storage capacities and platform for advanced tooling, which makes them capable of handling a wide variety of materials and operations. So although the shop rate on the HMCs is higher, the machine’s speed and precision makes up for the initial equipment cost.
  • It can be upgraded from 3- to 5-axis machines with various spindle speed and torque selections, making it have the ability to create everything from stand-alone products to complex assemblies and parts.
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is user-friendly because of its efficient feeding and multi-axis simultaneous cutting. When it comes to programming, operators and part designers can create seamless command sequences; therefore, it helps increase productivity and reduces the risk of human error. The MX Hybrid Roller Guides also provide durability and reliability which make the end products more accurate.
  • Horizontal machining can be done with less supervision or unattended machining because it is configured for robot integration. In other words, operators who had less machining experience can do the machining and there is no need for many operators.
  • Horizontal machining makes the shop cleaner because the horizontal keep chips are more contained. With this, maintaining the cleanliness of the shop is not a burden and it attracts quality-conscious employees and customers.

With the cutting tool technology constantly evolving and other possible future developments, horizontal machining might be able to expand its capabilities and produce even more quality products in various industries. If you’re in the market, browse our extensive inventory of used Horizontal CNC machines. Contact us at Tramar Industries and we’ll help you find the right machine for the job.

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