What is a turret milling machine?

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Milling machines are tools used by engineers and machine builders to cut metal into a specific shape. A turret milling machine is a vertical milling machine, that is, the spindle – the area that performs the cuts – is positioned vertically. The turret milling machine is considered a versatile unit as it can create a wide variety of shapes. It has a feather that can be raised or lowered to create different depths of cut. Tower milling machines are only effective if they are kept to a relatively small size, because the pen is difficult to operate with larger units.

Milling machines have two main shapes: vertical and horizontal. The form describes how the spindle, or cutting unit, is positioned on the machine. All turret milling units have a vertical spindle that remains stationary throughout the cutting process. Only the table, the area where the metal is placed, moves.

Like a drill, the turret milling machine has a quill unit that allows the table to move up and down. This allows the machine operator to create shallow or deep cuts in the metal to reach different depths and create more complex machine parts. Using the pen, and moving a part under the table called a knee, is the only way operators can make vertical cuts in metal.

With other vertical cutters, the table operates at a 90° angle to the spindle and the spindle remains aligned with its axis. A turret milling machine uses a table that moves both perpendicular and parallel. This puts more tension on the table, and the table should have more moving parts, but it also makes it easier for operators to make cuts. It also requires less pre-cut work because the operator will not have to take spindle and table movements into account.

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Depending on the model year and make, a turret milling machine can be automated or manual. Manual machines force operators to move the table to make precise cuts. Automatic machines allow the operator to use formulas to tell the machine where to cut.

Turret milling units are typically only found in small sizes. They can be bigger, but this puts more stress on the operator because the feather and knee are difficult to reach and move. With larger units, the operator would have to stop milling whenever the milling depth was greater or less so that he could reach the parts and change the depth.

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