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Comparing the Benefits of HMCs to VMCs

While vertical machining centers or vertical mills (VMCs) may be more common than horizontal machining centers (HMCs), that doesn’t inherently mean they’re the right choice for every application, industry or project. Find out more about how each one works if you’re trying to decide on the right one for you.

The Benefits of Vertical Mills 

One of the biggest perks of using a vertical mill is that you get to see more of what you’re doing. A horizontal mill will have a tombstone that blocks the view, so an operator will immediately feel like they have less control of the work. Vertical mills are also less expensive than HMCs, so they’re more attractive to the budget-conscious buyer. VMCs tend to be less complicated than HMCs , so the training period is not as rigorous and more people know how to use them. Programming a VMC is not nearly as difficult as an HNC, so people don’t shy away from learning more about how they function. Vertical mills also offer more flexibility than HNCs, so they’re better if you have unorthodox pieces or one-off needs. They require less floor space than an HNC too, and work better with large plates.

The Benefits of Horizontal Machining Centers 

Just by the above list alone, you would be forgiven for thinking VMCs are really the only smart choice available on the market. But the reality is not that simple. If you remember nothing else, remember that one HMC can be as productive as 3 VMCs: spindle utilization is 85% compared to 25% of a VMC. The method a horizontal machining center uses for chip evacuation is superior to a vertical mill, which means less re-cutting and longer tool life. You may find that the surface finish is perfect when it comes off the machine, so there’s less effort in the last stages of the process. The machines are sturdy and built to withstand the vibrations which translates to a quieter work environment and, ultimately, a longer life for the equipment. Many owners swear they can charge less for their goods and still make their profit goals. Depending on the types of projects a company will be taking on, it might be cheaper to buy one HMC and use the machine exclusively for production. Software is available that can help you program and run your horizontal machining center to its full capacity, and you can save even more energy by doing as much work as you possibly can offline.

How to Decide 

You’ll also need a great deal of capital if you’re planning to purchase an HNC. Not only will the machine be more expensive, but so will the accoutrements you’ll need to sustain the work. You’ll need less operators to work on an HNC, but they’ll need to know what they’re doing. The amount of expertise it takes to work these machines is substantial. If you don’t have the money to pay for the tools and the workers, then you’ll need to use a VMC.

Contact Tag Team Manufacturing today for a project quote. 303-841-5697.

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