Put simply, a milling machine or just a mill as it is often called is a tool that uses rotary cutters for designing a material or a work piece that can be metal, plastics or other possible materials. Some of the possible tasks that can be performed by a milling machine in a metalworking shop include engraving, planning, slot cutting, cutting and drilling among others.
Milling machines are generally categorized in terms of mill orientation, the vertical mill and of course the horizontal mill. The vertical mill as the name suggests has anaxis that is vertically oriented while the horizontal mill has an axis that is horizontally oriented. It is also important to note that apart from categorizing mills in terms of their orientation; mills can also be categorized based on their method of control, power source, size and purpose.
I.Buying a new or used milling machine
Because usually milling machines are built to last longer, you can buy a used Vertical Mill or horizontal mill cheaply compared to when you have to buy a brand new one. A used vertical mill or horizontal mill can be purchased from Craigslist, local industrial auctions and of course through a number of online stores. Consider the condition of the mill.
II. Buy it in a local area
Milling machines are notoriously heavy; a light one can weigh several hundred pounds while a heavier one can weigh several thousand pounds.
Because of the weight, obviously you will have to spend on transportation which you can handle yourself or use the services of a transportation company. Understandably if the distance to be covered is less then you won’t incur a lot of transportation expense.
III. Brand matters but not that much
We usually tend to consider the brand or the company making a product when we want to purchase. The same applies to a mill but it should not matter that much. The reason being, most if not all of the companies or brands use almost the same design principles for making a high quality machine.
But the truth is also that there are mills with compromised quality and that may be because of a manufacturer trying to reduce the costs of production. A material of poor quality might be used and the lead screws may be poorly made among others.
IV. Size matters
The size of a mill matters for it to be able to function effectively and efficiently. It is always advised that if you have a large space then you buy a large and heavy mill. A large machine is able to apply force to a material without flexing which tends to ruin the machine.
In conclusion, while the factors above matter, the best way you would be able to know the appropriate mill for your needs is by practicing. It is okay if an end mill breaks, you can always replace it with the parts bought. It is when you will know the types of end mills and of course their feeds and the speeds that are suitable for you.