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How to use a milling machine

Milling machines have many uses for DIY, and can offer great precision for drilling and machining various mechanical parts.
However, milling machines not easy tools for amateur machinists to use, and mastering them requires practice.

Want to find out how to correctly operate a milling machine? In this article, our industrial machining service experts will tell you everything you need to know.

8 tips for correctly using a milling machine

  1. First, mount the cutter to the machine. For obvious safety reasons, it is crucial that the machine is unplugged. Secure the cutter to the spindle with the wrench that usually comes with the machine.
  2. Place the cutter according to the work you want to do, and tighten the workholding device to the spindle.
  3. Adjust the cutter’s depth of cut by holding the two side handles and pushing the motor housing down. Adjust the scale to the desired depth of cut.
  4. Keep in mind that the cutter operates at high rotational speeds, so the workpiece you will be machining needs to be very well secured to the table or work surface you are using.
  5. At this stage, you can start the milling machine and begin cutting.
  6. You must guide the machine steadily and move it carefully along the path. The path you make with the cutter must be seamless and unbroken, so that nothing can impede its progress.
  7. When you finish your work, you must first remove the machine tool from the workpiece and then stop it. It is essential to stop the machine only after removing the cutter from the workpiece.
  8. When you are finished, unplug the machine and lock the motor.

Our tips for machining safely

While it may be difficult to use the tool confidently at first, safety is paramount. So, if you are new to using the milling machine, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make sure the work surface is not obstructed by objects such as nails. Obstructions can damage the milling machine as it passes.
  • The cutter must be maintained regularly to keep it sharp. Otherwise, it may get stuck in the wood or make poor cuts.
  • Always turn off the machine before making changes or adjustments.
  • Check that the workpiece is securely in place. The machine must be stable.
  • Don’t push the cutter too hard—it’s unnecessary. It should move easily during the cutting process and you only need to guide it through the workpiece you are working on.
  • Wait for the milling machine to stop turning before removing it.
  • Always reset the machine’s default settings after use. Next time, someone else might use it, which could cause a lot of damage if the settings are wrong.
  • You can never be too careful. Don’t hesitate to wear safety glasses (in case of flying fragments) and a dust mask.

The importance of understanding what a milling machine is

If you are reading this article, you may be a beginner interested in learning more about milling machines. Learning more is a good idea, because lack of knowledge can be dangerous… But once you know how, the machine can work wonders!

Here are the essential facts to know about the milling machine, a cutting tool that the HARtech team values tremendously.

How do milling machines work?

Milling machines are cutting tools that rotate at high speed to remove chips from a workpiece. The process involves the operator moving the cutting tool towards the workpiece to cut the material. If the work is done correctly, the workpiece is eventually shaped into the desired form.

With traditional milling machines, the operator moves the cutting tool manually to shape the workpiece. Modern milling machines, on the other hand, are equipped with a CNC control system that can perform very precise work using pre-established movements.

Technological advances regularly lead to improved machining processes, which make our profession all the more exciting!

What are the main types of milling machines?

Modern milling machines are equipped with numerical control that can produce more precise cuts. Here are the 3 most popular types of CNC milling machines:

  • 3-axis milling machine: The 3-axis milling machine has a vertical spindle and a horizontal spindle.
  • 4-axis milling machine: Overall, the 4-axis milling machine is similar to the 3-axis milling machine, but it has an additional rotary axis. It is particularly useful for manufacturing certain types of mechanical parts (aeronautical and automotive parts, for example).
  • 5-axis milling machine: The cutting tool moves linearly along the X, Y and Z axes and rotates on the A and B axes, which means that five sides of a workpiece can be machined at once.

The terms 3-axis, 4-axis and 5-axis refer to the number of directions the cutting tool can move in.

Need a hand? The HARtech team of machining experts can help!

Our machinists know milling machines inside and out: they have been using them to perform complex machining every day for years. If you want precise and professional work done, trust us with your cutting needs. We can handle a vast range of parts from a wide variety of industries. If you are in Greater Montreal and need the help of a trusted industrial machining company, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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