Machining Centers in Manufacturing

Machining is a very important manufacturing technique. We can obtain different kinds of shapes with machining centers. They are using metals in them generally. So, these machines are very important in the machining sector. Here, we will talk about the general structures of machining centers and their types of them.

A universal machining center.
A universal machining center(Image Source: Haas.).

What is Machining Center?

Machining centers include multiple machining operations in one system. For example, turning, milling, and drilling operations are in one system. These machines are generally highly automated systems. Human attention is minimum in these machines if we compare it with the conventional machine tools. There are different advantages of CNC machines if we compare them with other machining operations.

Less Human Attention

In the machining center, generally, all the processes are completely automatic. Operators are only responsible for the loading and unloading of parts from these centers. So, only one operator can operate lots of machines at one time. But in conventional machine tools such as turning machines, we do not need human attention for every phase of the machining. For these machines, there is no requirement for this kind of thing.

Multiple Operations

As we stated above, we perform multiple operations in machining centers. Because they are the combination of other machining operations and serial production manner is valid for them. In general, machining operations are not known as serial production. But these machines are the applications of serial production of machining operations.

Think about the manufacturing of a complex part in serial production. We need lots of machining operations to produce this part. But with one of these machines, we can perform this serial production of multiple operations. So, the serial production of complex parts will be much easier with these machines.

Pallet Mechanisms

The CNC machines are using pallet mechanisms. Pallet mechanisms transport the machined parts between different machining processes. For example, in a machining center, there are different machining operations. In these different machining operations, we perform serial production of a part. The transformation of this part between the machines is very important. There is no human attention to the positioning of the part between different machines. Transmission and positioning of the part are performed by these machines automatically.

Automatic Tool Changing

This is a very important characteristic of the machining center. Because operators are performing different kinds of machining operations. So, these different kinds of machines require different kinds of tools. Because of that, automatic tool changer carousels are used to change the tools. This automatic changing of tools provides no human interaction with the machining operation. All the processes are automatic.

Types of Machining Centers

There are three classifications of these machines in general. They are;

  • Vertical
  • Horizontal
  • Universal

We make this classification because of the shape of the work part.

Vertical Types

In the vertical machines, the spindle orientation is vertical. So, vertical machines can machine the top surfaces of the parts.

Horizontal Types

Horizontal machines are the machines in which the orientation of the spindle is horizontal. With this kind of orientation, we can machine the lateral surfaces of parts.

Universal Types

Universal machining centers are machines in which the orientation of the spindle can change between vertical and horizontal. So, universal machines are very useful in lots of machining operations.

Place of CNC Machines

In general, manufacturing facilities achieve this level of automation with CNC machines. CNC means computer numerical control in which all the machining operation is performed by a computer program. So, most of the machining centers are CNC machines.

There are different kinds of advantages of CNC machines;

  • After the machining operations, the CNC machine can check the key dimensions of the work part. So, these machines can make the gaging by themselves.
  • The tool-worn sensors of CNC machining centers can give an alert to change the tool when it is worn.
  • Also, automatic tool changing systems are very useful in CNC machining centers. If the tools are worn or if another kind of tool is required, the tool changer system changes the tool automatically.

CNC mill-turn centers are one of the most important examples of CNC machines. The spindle and the positioning of the part capabilities of CNC mill-turn centers give the possibility to implement both milling and turning operations.

Other CNC Multifunction Machines

Above all, there are lots of other capabilities of CNC machines in addition to the turning and milling operations. There are lots of machines that can perform multiple operations such as combining milling, drilling, turning, grinding, and welding. They can do these processes simultaneously with multiple work tools. Also, handling of the work parts to machining centers and from these machines are around the capabilities of these very improved technologies.

Conclusion

These are general characteristics of machining centers. In manufacturing sites, the use of these machines is very common. Especially in the very big production rates of complex parts, CNC machines play an important role in production.

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FAQs

What is meant by machining center? 

Machining center means that, CNC machines that can perform various machining operations such as drilling, turning, milling, and other. Because of this, machining centers are very important in machining operations.

What is the main feature of these machines?

The main feature of the machining center is the capability of serial production of very complex shapes from metals. They are doing it with a combination of automated machining and material handling operations.

What are the types of machining centers?

There are different types of machining centers. The general types are vertical, horizontal, and universal machining centers.

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