What Are the Different Types of Mills?

If you’re outfitting a shop, you need to know you’ve got your bases covered when it comes to milling tools. Each type provides different options, so a rounded investment is the best way to make sure you offer customers the widest range of milling services you can handle. So, what’s the checklist look like?

  • Vertical mills
  • Horizontal orientation milling machines
  • Box mills
  • Floor mills
  • Bed milling machines

So what do each of these mill types offer for tools and processes? That’s the key to understanding where to start and what you need to invest in as your business expands. Let’s take a look.

Vertical Mills

Vertical milling tools tend to have the most axes for tool movement, allowing them to combine almost any process into the overall program for a product.

They are generally easy to upgrade with tools like a new face milling cutter as well, so you can change out your tool sets for each job without too much trouble.

Horizontal Mills

The chief difference between a horizontal mill and a vertical one is literally that the horizontal one uses a cutting tool with a horizontal orientation, whereas the vertical mill uses a vertically oriented tool.

These mills tend to have a little less versatility and precision than vertical mills, but the trade-off is that they can do the work faster. That makes them ideal for tools like a solid carbide high feed mill that are designed to work on high volume projects.

Box Mills

Box milling machines are very inexpensive, but they’re also very low-end when it comparing speed and versatility with either of the previously discussed CNC mill types.

If you have a simple operation that you do not want to dedicate an expensive machine to finishing, this is the machine that represents the most cost-effective investment. Box mills literally attach the cutting tool to a box way to move it.

Floor Mills

Technically, floor mills are a type of horizontal milling machine. They are counted differently because they have a few unique characteristics, the most notable of which is their use of table rows.

The horizontal spindle moves over a set of tracks alongside those rows. Floor mills are uncommon in professional shops these days because they are manual machines and have largely been replaced by horizontal CNC mills. Hobbyists and artisanal shops still use them, though.

Bed Mills

This mill type is named for its use of a bed layout. The spindle is attached to a pendant, allowing it to move freely above the surface of the part between cutting moves.

Bed mills are essentially specialized vertical mills, with the distinguishing feature being the use of that pendant in the design. You can mostly count on using the same ceramic end mills for bed milling that you would when running vertical milling processes.

Check Out More Mill Tools & Other Parts

Once you know what types of milling machines you’re going to need, the next step is to invest in your basic tool upgrades and replacement supplies. Your mills will come with some tools installed, but they will need to be replaced periodically.

If you are looking to upgrade to different tools, the best approach is to assess the needs of your customers and then buy the mill cutting tools that cater to those needs. As your customer base expands, you’ll find a path to expanding those tool sets that brings a quick return on the investment.