The Milling Machine - 2: Types of Milling Machines
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
There are two major types of milling machines, the vertical milling machine and the horizontal milling machine.

As their names imply, a vertical milling machine spindle axis is vertical and the horizontal milling machine spindle axis is horizontal. In addition the vertical milling machine has a machine table that moves perpendicular to the spindle axis of rotation and the horizontal milling machine has a work table that moves parallel to the spindle axis of rotation.

The vertical milling machine is the most common type found in the machine shop today (figure 1). However, during the first half of the 20th century the horizontal milling machine was the primary machine tool used for milling purposes (figure 2). There are far fewer horizontal milling machines in production today than vertical machines.

Another type of mill is the combination milling machine. This milling machine is a hybrid of the vertical and the horizontal (figure 3).

Still another type of specialty milling machine is the universal milling machine. It is usually a horizontal milling machine with a swiveling table (Figure 4).

There have been dozens of specialty milling machines built over the years, each with their own unique configuration. Do not be surprised if you come across a machine not covered here.

Figure 2
Figure 1
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