Milling machine. Milling machines are the most vital power tools or machine tools for the manufacturing industry. A milling machine has multipoint cutting tools.
The practice of milling is a process of removing metals bypassing the work-pieces through a rotating multipoint cutter. The milling machine can hold multiple cutters at one point in time.
The machine works at high speed for quicker removal of metal. The metal removal rate for milling machines is faster when compared to lathe machines.
We are trying to provide precise information to milling machine users about the dos and don’ts to milling machines. You must choose the bestmilling machines to get the milling job done.
In this article, we worked hard and have carefully research information about milling machines. We have come up with this buying guide for milling machines users looking for the top milling machines. Check out our best milling machines comparison and review, so you can make the purchasing decision accurately.
Our Quick Overview
- Best Overall Milling Machine: Grizzly Industrial G0757Z Milling Machine
- Best Lightweight Milling Machine: Jet JMD-18 350018 Milling Machine
- Best Quality Construction Milling Machine: Grizzly Industrial G0755
- Best Budget Milling Machine: Jet Milling Machine 350017
- Most Durable Milling Machine: South Bend Milling Machine SB1028F
- Best Small Size Milling Machine: Jet Milling Machine 690038
Our Top Picks
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|Grizzly Industrial G0757Z Milling Machine with DRO And Powerfeed||9.0||2,054 pounds||1 year||Best Overall|
|Jet JMD-18 350018 Milling Machine||9.0||739 pounds||2 year||Best Lightweight|
|Grizzly Industrial G0755 Milling machine and Drilling Machine||8.9||1,102 pounds||1 year||Best Quality Construction|
|Jet Milling Machine 350017||8.6||370 pounds||1 year||Best Budget|
|South Bend Milling Machine SB1028F||8.6||3,350 pounds||1 year||Most Durable|
|Jet Milling Machine 690038||8.5||1,610 pounds||1 year||Best Small Size|
Benefits of milling machines
- The milling machine has the durable and size construction to support large and heavier machines
- Greater precision and accuracy in the finishing of the work
- You can control the operation costs
- Suitable for producing individual pieces in large or small batches
- During operation, it can handle multiple cuts at the same time
- Can use of multiple cutters
- Customization opportunity
- Provides accurate cuts
- These machines can reduce human errors
- During cutting process, these milling machines delivers flexible computer control options
Types of milling machines
1. Horizontal milling machine
The horizontal milling machine is cutters that are placed on a horizontal arbor. Many horizontal milling machines have rotary tables that help in the milling process at various angles.
These tables are the universal tables. The cutting tools of the horizontal milling machine will remind you of circular saws.
The centers for horizontal milling machines have many customizations, including multiple cutters that allow the users to cut at different angles and horizontally or rotating universal beds. The followings are the benefits of using horizontal milling machines.
Accuracy and precision
The cuts can be very precise due to the use of the computer. These machines can also support tight geometric tolerance. With these precision and accuracy features, horizontal milling machines reduce the risks of human error.
If you plan to have long and large production operations, the horizontal milling machines can provide speed and precision. These machines have the capacity to finish the projects.
You can expect that these machines last a lifetime. The horizontal milling machines’ size and durable construction allow them to finish larger and heavier materials without doing any harm to these machines.
With its speed, horizontal milling machines can do the job fast and can make multiple cuts simultaneously. During pocketing and facing, the chips are removable quickly.
2. Vertical milling machines
If you ever use a standard drilling press, its motion is similar to the vertical milling machine’s motion. These machines feature a vertically spindling axis.
Its mechanism is very useful for plunge cuts and drilling cuts. There are two types of vertical milling machines: the turret mills and the bed mills.
With the bed mills, on the bed is where you keep the material. These materials can be moved backward and forward horizontally, while the cutter can go down and up that is attached to the spindles.
You can position the material vertically and horizontally with a bed and a fixed spindle to move with the turret mills. The followings are the benefits of using vertical milling machines.
Since vertical milling machines are more widely used in many industries or machine shops, they are always available in the market. The cost is lower than the horizontal milling machines.
Easy to use
You can use the vertical milling machines easily because they are computerized controls. You can also easily find operators you want to employ due to the widespread use of these machines since there are no significant and unique fixtures needed for the power tool.
There will be a less human error because these vertical milling machines can provide precise and accurate cuts.
3. Planning mill
Planner-type milling machines are a powerful tool that takes a cut, made a suitable adjustment by adjusting a board moisture content from a sawmill. The result would be finished dimensional lumber. Their components include the many saws, the matcher, the planer, and the molding machines.
4. Bed milling machines
Bed milling machines have the spindle on a pendant that moves down and up to move the cutter. When the work starts, the table sits on a stout bed that sits on the floor.
5. Knee milling machines
Knee milling machines have an x-y table that rides down and up the column on a knee that can be vertically adjusted. This machine works that includes Bridgeport.
Main components of milling machines
1. The ram
The ram is an overhanging arm in a milling machine (vertical). Its milling head is mounted on the top of the column, and the other end of the ram is attached to the other end of the column. You can move the ram out or in or transversally on the column by utilizing a hand lever.
2. Swivel and saddle table
A swivel table is mounted to the saddle that revolved or swiveled horizontally in two directions. The saddle itself supports the knee, and it is located on the knee. A saddle has the motion of sliding on a horizontal dovetail on the knee. The dovetail location is parallel to the spindle axis located in horizontal milling m/c).
3. Arbor support
To support the outer end of the arbor, there is an arbor support cast with a bearing. The outer end of the arbor can be aligned with the spindle. This support prevents the rise of the outer end in cutting operations. There are two supports: the first one with a small diameter bearing hole of a maximum diameter of 1-inch. The other one has a big diameter bearing hole of up to 23/4-inch.
4. Power feed mechanism
There is a power feed mechanism that is located in the knee. This mechanism controls right and left, out and in, and up and down feeds. There is a feed selection lever to point out the feed selection plates for the milling machine’s wanted feed rate. To increase the required speed of feeds, there is a rapid traverse lever. This device is utilized when the user or operator is adjusting or positioning, or aligning the cuts or work.
5. Base and column
Base and column deliver support for the other components. The spindle needs to be lubricated using an oil reservoir and pump in the column. The column sits on the base. To cool the machine’s operation, there is a coolant reservoir and a pump.
Table and saddle are supported by casting. The knee is where the gearing mechanism is enclosed. Dovetail ways fastened the column. A vertical positioning screw adjusts and supports the knee. The screw adjusts the knee down and up by lowering or raising the lever with a power feed or the operator’s hand.
To drive and hold cutting tools, a spindle is used that is mounted on the bearings. An electric motor causes it via gear trains on the column. Its face lies nearby the table and has an internal taper machined on it. There are two keys at the front beginning that supports a positive drive for an arbor or cutter holder.
8. Overhanging arm
The overhanging arm is a horizontal beam located on the top face of the column. It is a single casting. It slides on the dovetail ways.
The table is located on the top of the saddle and used to hold the work. There are several T-slots to maintain position and work jigs and fixtures. It can be operated manually by hand. The table can be moveable by hand, engage, and turn the longitudinal hand crank.
How to use a milling machine
- Make sure that the workpiece, table, the taper in the spindle, and the arbor or cutter shank are free from burrs, nicks, or chips.
- Learn from previous mistakes and start planning with better sense and judgment.
- Set up each job carefully and as close to the milling machine spindles as circumstances will allow.
- Read the instruction manual and use a recommended cutting oil.
- There was a time when the undercut vibrates or springs. To avoid this, secure the material or workpiece using clamps, and make sure that they are tight and held firmly.
- When the milling machine is still running, never adjust or shift the speeds or the feeds.
- Feed the material or workpiece in the opposite direction of the rotation of the milling cutter.
- Make sure the spindle can rotate counterclockwise and clockwise because many cutters can be reversed on the arbor.
- Inspect the milling machine that it is properly lubricated, in good running order, and can move freely according to the proper direction.
- Never choose a wider diameter milling cutter as necessary.
Factors to consider when purchasing a milling machine
1. Spindle motor horsepower
The motor horsepower can determine the price of milling machines. The lower the horsepower, the higher the cost will be.
All milling machines will have to gear down the motor to gain torque at a lower speed. When the operator is milling steel, the machine’s operation should be at a low-speed with high torque. But when milling aluminum, the machine needs to be at a high-speed and low-torque.
So, the horsepower needed depends on the milling material. When purchasing a milling machine, it would be best to choose a machine higher than one horsepower. They are commonly 3-phase motor.
2. 3 phase motor
If you intend to have a milling machine for your home, you should not have a 3-phase motor. Instead, you would have a single-phase motor.
For industrial space, a 3-phase power motor will be available. The price of 3-phase milling machines is higher than the single-phase milling machine.
3. Drill press machine
A drill press machine has a 2-axis table strapped onto it. The prices are lower than milling machines. The drill press machine is not sturdy enough to do the milling. It is only suitable for particular and precise hole drilling and very light milling. These features can be done by a milling machine which can drill too.
A digital readout or DRO is one module to be an additional feature to each milling machine’s axis. Some machine models come with DRO.
DRO comes as an upgrade, and kits are available to milling machines as an option. It provides a display that informs the operator how far you have moved the quill or the table, making each operation effortless.
You do not need a DRO because every milling machines already have dials for measuring movement. The problem is, reading these dials can be time-consuming and cumbersome.
When there is a slop in the screws, a DRO can inform how much the table has moved.
5. Power feed
One power feed is an upgrade to each axis, and many mills come with it from the factory. An operator can toggle a small motor to move the table. The result would be a better surface finish and lower fatigue. The speed stays consistent throughout the cut.
6. The size
If an operator wants to mill steel, it would be recommended not to purchase small desktop milling machines. It would take many forces and challenging work to mill steel.
To mill steel, the milling machine needs to be rigid and heavy. A small desktop machine can only mill aluminum. To be safe, purchase a large and heavy milling machine as you have space for.
There’s a considerable price difference in a milling machine that provides a tolerance of .001 and one milling machine that provides .0001.
Best Milling Machines Reviews
We researched online to put together the top milling machines available on the market today. Combining mostly on consumer reviews and product information, we recommend our favorite products.
Best Overall Milling Machine
Grizzly Industrial G0757Z Milling Machine with DRO And Powerfeed
Average ratings: 9.0
- Best Capability and Power Milling Machine. The grizzly Industrial milling machine with power feed and DRO features the best capability and power for milling a wide variety of materials. It has a variable-speed that features swing-arm-mounted and electronic variable-speed spindle control with a DRO.
- Horsepower. Its three horsepower motor is enough to mill any materials. The motor is a 3-phase vertical spindle that operates on single-phase 220-volt power with a Delta variable-frequency drive.
- High-CFM. It is also equipped with a high-CFM (independent) fan to lower the temperature during operations that require slow-speed or intense demands.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||690550730474|
|Required power supply||15A, 220V, single-phase|
|Vertical spindle motor||3 HP, 220V, 3-phase|
|Horizontal spindle motor||2 HP, 220V, single-phase|
|Coolant pump motor||40W, 220V|
Best Lightweight Milling Machine
Jet JMD-18 350018 Milling Machine
Average ratings: 9.0
- Best Light Milling Machine. This Jet JMD-18 milling machine is a combination of mill drills, a light milling machine, a belt-driven drill press, and the table’s dual coordinate abilities for efficiency and flexibility. When the lateral forces are experienced against the bit, a locking collet prevents the cutting tool from falling away from the spindle.
- Features. Weighing at 739 pounds, this Jet milling or drilling machine has the advantages of affordability, light construction, and space-saving versatility. With that weight, we rate this machine as the best lightweight milling machine.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||662755103902|
|Face mill capacity||3-inches|
|End mill capacity||3/4-inches|
|Motor||13 amp, 115 volts, 2 horsepower, 12-speed motor|
Best Quality Construction
Grizzly Industrial G0755 Milling Machine and Drilling Machine
Average ratings: 8.9
- Improve Movement. This Grizzly Industrial Milling Machine G0755 with stand and power feed can help the operator improve movement and increase rigidity. It comes with a motorizing headstock elevation travel on a dovetail-way column.
- Variable Speed. This milling machine model features 2 HP, 220V, single-phase, 1725 RPM, 8.6A motor, P5 spindle bearings, gear-head spindle speed controls, dovetail ways, reversible spindle, and longitudinal variable speed power feed.
- Quality Construction. The operator does not have to worry about its construction because it is made in an ISO 9001 Grizzly Industrial factory and comes with a 1-year warranty. That is why we rate this machine as the best quality construction milling machine.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||690550293115|
|Face mill capacity||3-1/8-inches|
|End mill capacity||1-1/4-inches|
|Motor||2 HP, 220V, single-phase, 1725 RPM, 8.6A motor|
Best Budget Milling Machine
Jet Milling Machine 350017
Average ratings: 8.6
- Large Hand Wheels. The JET milling machine JMD-15 (drilling machine) comes with a one-piece cast iron column for support and features large hand wheel knobs. Its worktable has a surface size of 7-1/2-inches x 23-inches and a versatile 360-degree head swivel.
- Base Taper. For easy cleanup, the operator can use the base-taper. The operator can change the spindle speed with belt adjustment using the belt cover with a quick slide latch.
- Most Accurate. The machine comes with heavy-duty tapered roller bearings to support the spindle to have accurate drilling depth and tolerance. Every Jet machine is reliable, has quality engineering and manufacturing. Each milling machine was tested and built to tight tolerance standards to have precision and quality operations. The price is affordable that is why we rate this machine the best budget milling machine.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||662755103896|
|Face mill capacity||2-1/2-inches|
|End mill capacity||1/2-inch|
|Motor||1 horsepower, single phase, 115/230-volt, 115-volt motor|
Most Durable Milling Machine
South Bend Milling Machine SB1028F
Average ratings: 8.6
- Most Durable. This South Bend Milling Machine SB1028F is made with quality hardened, ground table, chromed quill, and Turcite coated ways. These features mean the milling machine has built-in durability for years of service. We rate this machine as the most durable milling machine.
- Variable Speed. A single-phase power source powers its frequency drive to provide variable speed control. The operator can have trouble-free milling and years of accuracy.
- Large Capacity. The 10-inches x 54-inches machine is ideal for milling applications that need large capacities and high tolerances. It features electronic variable speeds, fully articulated ram or head assembly, table, and knee power feed, chromed quill, high-quality spindle bearings, double-bronzed leadscrew nut, Allen Bradley electronics, and swing arm mounted controls.
- The Motor. This milling machine is equipped with five horsepower, the 3-phase motor that runs on single-phase 220 volts power. There is an inverter to deliver variable spindle speeds.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||845865003922|
|Spindle speeds||60-5,000 RPM|
|Automatic vertical feeds||0.0015-inches, 0.003-inches, 0.006-inches|
|Footprint||41-1/2-inches x 24-1/2-inches|
|Motor||5 horsepower, 3-phase, AEVF, 1725 RPM, 220 volts motor|
Best Small Size Milling Machine
Jet Milling Machine 690038
Average rating: 8.5
- Best Small Milling Machine. The JVM-836 Jet Milling Machine is crafted to provide precision cuts, reliability, and flexibility to keep running with superior results on every part turned out. Its size can be used for home shops, repair shops, or small maintenance shops that can provide the same production as a larger milling machine.
- Precision. The Jet milling machine features a precision-bored and honed machine head that offers milling accuracy. Its spindle is equipped with a heavy-duty brake and high-precision bearings. For an accurate finish, there is the chrome-finished large-diameter quill. The front-to-back ram travels over 10 inches for optimal versatility.
- Safety and Stability. Its head tilts right or left with a graduated scale on the column. It locks on movable surfaces that provide ample stability and safety. AAll dials are satin chrome-finished for lifetime use.
Why we like it
Why we do not like it
|GTIN or UPC||662755195037|
|Table size||7-7/8-inches x 35-3/4-inches|
|Spindle speeds||120 RPM to 1,550 RPM|
|Motor||1-1/2 HP, 230-volt only, 3-phase motor|
The safe work principles when using milling machines
- Always wear CSA-certified safety glasses
- Avoid having oil and grease on the floor around the milling machine
- Use lifting equipment to move heavy work
- The power must be off before changing cutters
- Always stay at the machine when it is running
- When cleaning the machine, remove all cutting tools from the spindle
- Keep clear the working surface clear of material, tools, and scraps
- Do not use dull cutters
- Change cutting compounds routinely
- Utilize a rake, brush, and vacuum to remove cuttings
- Keep rags, brushes, and hands away from the revolving milling cutter
- First, mill the largest surface
- Move a table as far as possible from the cutter to prevent injuring the hand
- Hold milling cutters with the proper cloth to prevent being cut when handling them
- Use proper hand tools for adjustments
- Mount work in a vise that is held or bolted magnetically to the table
- Inspect that work is mounted squarely
- Fasten the workpiece and cutter securely before milling
- Each machine must have an emergency stop button
- The machine should have a reachable start/stop button
- Always wear personal protective equipment including facemask, footwear, or hearing protection
How to maintain milling machines
1. Take care of accessories and parts
It is essential to perform routine maintenance checks on all of your parts and accessories. Ensure that all of your machine parts and accessories are stored and handled properly
Avoid being careless with any part of your machine tool. Common sense plays a significant role here. Use all of your reasons to inspect and expect potential problems.
When you hear an odd sound, smelling a strange odor or feeling an unordinary vibration can mean big trouble. You can do the care when detected early on.
To optimize this process, you might want to keep a checklist, and carefully logging all maintenance performed.
2. Sharpen essential parts
If you are milling with a milling machine, there have to be components designed for chopping, slicing, cutting, and sharpening. You have to make sure that these parts are sharp.
Without putting the work on sharpening, you could be placing production quality at very high risk. The sharpness of a part or accessory is crucial because you must make sure that cut materials are shaped precisely, correctly, and accurately.
The maintenance process includes checking the sharpness of tools such as lathe tools, precision cutters, end mills, and drill bits.
Make sure a particular component or attachment is not out of alignment. Unaligned components could affect your work quality significantly.
To determine how the component is aligned correctly, perform test jobs and measure the resulting parts to inspect how the attachment or equipment works. If they are unaligned, you need to re-align the machine to maintain accurate specifications.
It is imperative for milling machines frequently used to inspect the machine’s lubrication levels every week. By making sure the moving parts are properly lubricated, you are protecting the motor over an extended period.
Lubrication includes greasing moving parts, oiling internal moving components, and inspection of all part movement while running. Without a suitable amount of oil, grease, or other lubricants, any machine could quickly wear and tear.
The machine can break down or have extreme damage.
It is obvious to make sure that your milling machine is cleaned regularly. By cleaning various components either daily or weekly, or monthly, you are making sure that the machine runs at maximum capacity.
The cleanliness of a machine can be overlooked when regarding parts breaking down. When a specific part builds a lot of grime or starts to rust, long-term problems can surface.