What is the best Vertical Milling Machine I can buy Today? Is a Bridgeport Milling Machine still the best?
What is the best Vertical Milling Machine I can Buy Today? Is a Bridgeport Milling Machine still the best?
That is a very difficult question to answer. With thousands of manufacturers building Vertical and Horizontal milling machines today it is tough to find a good one. Many are from China or Taiwan and some from even China AND Taiwan.
The originator of the milling machine is a company often copied called Bridgeport Milling machines. They pretty much set the standard for the style and shape of the mills made today. Many of the Import Milling machines are almost exact copies of the Bridgeport and even have some interchangeable parts!
You first need to start with the questions:
-What kind of work are you going to be doing on this mill?
-How often are you going to use this mill?
-How often are you going to change the speeds depending on the material you are using?
-What Accessories do I need with my mill?
-How long do I intend on keeping this mill?
-What accessories do I want with my new or used Vertical Milling machine?
Let's take these questions one at a time.
Q: What kind of work are you going to be doing on this mill?
A: Are you doing light aluminum work or are you hogging titanium? Depending on the materials you are going to use you will need a light duty Mill or a Heavy duty Milling machine. Most of the light duty machines are going to be the Chinese, Taiwan or China/Taiwan meaning the head is from Taiwan and the body from China.
Brands such as: Acra, Birmingham, Comet, wells, Sharp, Chevalier and Atrump are a few import machines for sale today. They have a good reputation on the new and Used milling machine market. They are lower cost solutions to a light duty job that doesn't need such a high quality machine to do more simple work.
Q: How often are you going to use this mill?
A: Some users need a vertical mill for a personal garage, Hobby Shop, Maintenance shop and other low use conditions. Others need full production machinery to run 24/7 under heavy use conditions. If you are not in need of a production machine than many of the import and less expensive mills are most likely a great choice for you.
Q: How often are you going to change the speeds depending on the material you are using?
A: There are a few different Head types available for Todays Vertical Milling Machine.
1. Belt or Pulley Change Head- This options requires the user to change the belt position on the pulleys to a different position allowing for a different set of speeds. This is the most labor intensive way to change the speeds. If you are not looking to change speeds and use often the same materials and tools on your mill than this is the most INEXPENSIVE style of mill.
2. Variable Speed Head- A variable speed head has a simple handle that you spin to change the speeds. There is also a High and Low Speed Selector to choose that will open up a large range of speeds. This is a quicker way to change the speeds than a belt pulley head and the most popular head made today.
3. A/C Inverter Head- Being the most expensive you will not see a large amount of used Milling machines on the market with this option. It generally cost about $1,000 more than a variable speed mill. This option uses a pedometer to allow for speed change giving ultimate control on your head speeds with the least amount of time to change the speed. This A/C inverter Head option also allows for the user to power the mill using both 220V Single phase or 220V Three Phase power.
Q: What accessories do I want with my new or used Vertical Milling machine?
A: Basic options range from:
1. Powered Table Feed on X, Y or Z axis- This allows for auto feed as well as having rapids to quickly bring the table back to home position.
2. Powered Draw Bar- Uses air to turn the drawbar allowing for the user to change the collets out quickly and easily.
3. DRO or Digital Readout- This is a great way to easily see the X, Y and Z axis readings without having to look a the handles. They often have calculators built in for Milling Machine Calculations.
4. Vise, Collets, Endmills and other work holding tools.
The best thing to do when looking for a milling machine to buy or sell is visit http://www.SterlingMachinery.com/mills.php
Sterling Machinery Exchange has dozens of new and used mills in stock available for inspection underpower. This allows for the consumer to see all the different brands and options all in one place. They ship world wide and have been in business since 1954.
Call to speak with a helpful milling machine sales person today! 626-444-0311
Written by: Adam Mattes
V.P. Sterling Machinery Exchange