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Machine tools and tooling considerations

Machining centres

Machining centres

Machining centres satisfy all demands for components and operations like milling, drilling, boring, reaming and tapping. How you configure the machine will have a large influence on the metal cutting efficiency and machine utilization.


Machining centre configuration

Always configure the machine to make it most suited for the components being produced. Component geometry and quantity will influence the choice and will define the number of set-ups required.

  • 3-axis: Vertical machining centres (VMC) on a fixed table. A rotary table can be added to provide a 4th axis for more complex shapes and accessibility
  • 4-axis: Horizontal machining centres (HMC). A tombstone is used to allow four component set-ups on the table for higher volume production. Utilizing a pallet system ensures a high machine utilization rate
  • 5-axis, trunnion table: The spindle is "fixed" with the 4th and 5th axis in the table
  • 5-axis, 90° head: The spindle provides the 4th axis (B) with the 5th axis in the table

The 5-axis variants can have a turning option with the 5th axis having full rotation to make them into multi-task machines.

Spindle interface

The spindle interface selection is a key decision as this often defines the limitations on metal cutting efficiency. When not machining, the spindle interface requires quick interchangeability. Yet when machining, it is vital that the joint between the spindle and coupling is solid, even if cutting forces do their best to disrupt this interface.

Read more about how to choose spindle


Options for machining centres

There are different machine options to provide even higher machine utilization.

Magazine/automatic tool change (ATC)

It is important to allow ample space for tools in the magazine, for all operations and components, to support a quick change over from one job to another without the need to change tools. If using sister tooling this needs to be accounted for as well.

When using large diameter or long tools, ensure that the ATC has adequate weight and moment capability – this is often a limiting factor limiting the use of long and larger diameter tools.


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By using a pallet option the component can be set-up in the fixture while the machine is still producing. This provides excellent machine utilization compared to setting up directly in the machine.

Right angle head adaptor

To be able to carry out internal milling operations the spindle nose adaption for support and location will be needed to allow the main spindle to drive the auxiliary head. This head can be tool changed and stored in the magazine.

Interpolation turning

This machine option allows production of a symmetrical feature on a non-symmetrical component and reduces the need for engineered tools and feed out heads.

Read more about interpolation turning

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High pressure pump

Most machines offer a high pressure coolant capability around 70 bar (1015 psi).

Read more about coolant aspects



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