CNC Machining Center Buying Guide
Are you in the market for a CNC machining center but feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Choosing the right CNC machining center can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with the technical jargon or industry standards.
That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the purchasing process with confidence.
Whether you’re a seasoned manufacturing professional or just starting out, we’ll walk you through the key factors to consider, the different types of CNC machining centers available, the top manufacturers, and the various buying options to help you make an informed decision Decide. So, let’s dive into the world of CNC machining centers together!
CNC Machining Center Buying Guide
How much do you know about CNC machining centers?
What is a CNC machining center? How does it work? What is the difference between CNC machining center and CNC lathe? When do you need to use a CNC machining center?
Do you also have these questions, read the following content and you will have an in-depth understanding of CNC machining centers.
In this article, we will discuss with you the following aspects of CNC machining centers:
- What is a CNC machining center?
- How does it work?
- What types does it have?
- What are its main functional components?
- The difference between CNC machining center and CNC lathe.
- Who are the top CNC machining center manufacturers?
- How much is the price of a CNC machining center?
- Factors to consider when purchasing a CNC machining center.
Well, enter the world of CNC machining centers with TAICNC.
What is a CNC machining center?
First of all, let’s take a look at what is a CNC machining center?
CNC machining centers are also called CNC milling machines, and they are the most widely used CNC machines.
CNC machining centers are an important part of modern manufacturing, used to manufacture complex parts with high precision and high efficiency.
Its main functions are milling, drilling, and tapping, and it is generally applicable to various materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, and other metal materials.
It is controlled by a computer program so it is very precise and can make very intricate shapes and designs. It’s kind of like a robot that makes things out of raw materials, but it’s controlled by computers instead of people.
The programs that CNC machining centers follow are G-codes, and usually people use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create a specific part or product.
Then convert the graphic into the program format of G code, import it into the CNC controller, and the CNC machining center can complete the manufacturing of parts according to the program.
This is a complex process, and depending on the complexity of the part, we may need different types of CNC machining centers to do the job, including vertical, horizontal, 3-axis, 4-axis or 5-axis.
CNC machining centers are used in many different industries, such as manufacturing components for automobiles, aircraft, medical devices and electronics.
How does the CNC machining center work?
Are you tired of manual milling? Interested in more efficient and precise CNC milling.
Then you have to understand how it works.
Hey there! So, a CNC machining center is controlled by a computer program, which makes it really cool and high-tech.
To use it, you first need to place the part you want to make on the worktable.
Then, you need to create a program that tells the machine how to cut, drill, and shape the part. Including the speed, direction and depth of cut.
You need to prepare the tools needed for milling according to the parts, and place the tools in ATC for use.
Once you have the program ready, you can start the machine and it will start cutting the part according to the program.
The material being processed is fixed on the table and then moved by the machine’s axes to ensure that the cutting tool is in the correct position for the cut.
The machine automatically adjusts the speed and direction of the cutting tools to make sure everything is perfect.
When the part is finished, you just take it off the worktable. Overall, the CNC machining center is a really amazing machine that helps people make things really quickly and accurately!
Through the video below, you can understand its principle more intuitively.
What types of CNC machining centers are there?
I think you should already know what a CNC machining center is and how it works.
So what types does it have?
There are many different types of CNC milling machines or CNC machining centers, mainly vertical and horizontal according to the form of their spindles.
Different types of CNC machining centers are suitable for different processing tasks, and choosing a suitable machine can help you complete processing tasks faster and more accurately.
Here are some types you might find on the market:
- Vertical machining center (VMC)
- Horizontal machining center (HMC)
- Double column machining center
- CNC tapping center
- 3 axis machining center
- 4 axis machining center
- 5 axis machining center
- Multitasking machining center
There are so many types of CNC machining centers, do you not know how to choose?
When you are considering the right CNC machining center for your machining needs, it is useful to consider your specific requirements in terms of machined part size, shape and complexity of design, accuracy needs, and machine life and stability.
Come with me to learn about these different types of CNC machining centers.
Vertical machining centers (VMC)
A Vertical Machining Center (VMC) is one of the most common types of CNC machining centers.
The cutting tools on this machine enter from the top and move along three axes to cut, drill, and mill materials.
Because the cutting tools enter from the top, this machine is especially good for cutting flat and shallow parts.
The worktable on a VMC is very stable and can hold large and heavy parts, ensuring the accuracy of the cutting process.
Overall, a VMC is a very practical and widely used type of CNC machining center that can be used to machine a wide variety of parts.
Usually VMC is 3 axis, but it has strong expandability, you can also realize 4-axis and 5-axis machining by adding a rotary table.
Horizontal machining center(HMC)
Have you heard of horizontal machining centers? It is referred to as HMC machine.
So, what makes an HMC different from other machining centers? Well, as the name suggests, it’s horizontal, meaning the spindle and workpiece are positioned horizontally.
Why is it designed this way?
because this allows them to have a greater working envelope and can carry more weight
HMC usually has a rotary table, which can realize the machining of multiple surfaces in one clamping. 4-axis linkage is possible.
HMC is well suited for machining large parts, especially box type parts. And not subject to height restrictions like vertical machining centers.
They are also ideal for creating parts that require multiple operations, as the machine can rotate the workpiece to access different angles and surfaces.
Double column machining center
Are you unfamiliar with double-column machining centers? That’s ok, let’s get to it.
The double-column machining center is the largest CNC machine manufactured at present, and it is suitable for processing various large parts, automobile molds, etc.
In fact, the double-column machining center is a type of vertical machining center. As the name suggests, it has two columns that support the spindle and the workpiece, which allows it to process larger workpieces and provide higher stability and precision.
This makes it ideal for machining large parts that require high precision, such as those used in the aerospace and automotive industries.
(Examples here include TAICNC’s TL line or TL-2015)
CNC tapping center
A CNC tapping center is a type of vertical machining center.
It usually has a small working range, so it is also called a small machining center or a compact machining center.
The two top brands in the world are Brother and Fanuc.
Why is it called a tapping center?
This is mainly due to its higher spindle speed and displacement speed than ordinary vertical machining centers.
It is famous for its ability to complete drilling and tapping tasks efficiently and quickly.
CNC tapping centers are very suitable for manufacturing parts that require threaded holes, especially 3C digital parts, so if you visit a mobile phone manufacturing factory in China, you will find countless CNC tapping centers.
3 axis machining center
What is a 3-axis machining center?
Usually standard vertical machining centers are 3-axis machining centers.
The machine can move the cutting tool along three different axes to mill, drill and shape the material.
These three axes are commonly referred to as X, Y, and Z.
Among them, the X axis moves left and right, the Y axis moves forward and backward, and the Z axis moves up and down.
With these three axes, a three-axis machining center can precisely manufacture a variety of shapes and parts.
In short, the 3-axis machining center is the CNC machine with the largest market share. It is a versatile and practical machine that can help manufacturers manufacture various parts quickly and accurately.
4 axis machining center
A 4-axis machining center is a type of CNC machine that can move cutting tools along four different axes to cut, drill, and shape materials.
This machine is similar to a 3-axis machining center, but with the addition of a fourth rotary axis, which allows the cutting tool to rotate around the workpiece.
This extra axis of movement makes it easier to create complex shapes and contours, and it can also reduce the need for multiple setups and tool changes.
The benefits of using a 4-axis machining center include the ability to create more complex and intricate parts with greater precision and accuracy.
With a 4-axis machining center, manufacturers can reduce production time and costs by completing more of the part in a single setup, while also maintaining a high level of accuracy.
If you currently only have a 3-axis machining center, you can also achieve 4-axis machining by adding a rotary table.
Often this is an option that can be expanded upon when purchasing a CNC machining center.
5 axis machining center
Expensive is the first thing people think of when they hear a discussion about 5-axis machining centers.
Yes, 5-axis machining centers are the most sophisticated and expensive CNC machines.
It moves the cutting tool along five different axes to cut, drill and shape the material. These 5 axes are X, Y, Z, A, C
The machine is similar to a 4-axis machining center, but adds a fifth axis of motion. The fifth axis is usually the axis of rotation, allowing the tool to be tilted at an angle, making it easier to create complex shapes and contours.
The benefits of using a 5-axis machining center include the ability to create even more complex and intricate parts with greater precision and accuracy.
With the added axis of movement, manufacturers can create parts with more intricate geometries and achieve greater surface finish quality.
The 5-axis machining center can also reduce the need for multiple setups and tool changes, which can save time and money in the manufacturing process.
Multitasking machining center
A multitasking machining center is a more complex type of machining center machine.
Its function is to realize the processing tasks of multiple processes in one clamping.
These machines are usually small in size and are only suitable for making some precision small parts.
Benefits of using a multitasking machining center include the ability to reduce setup time and increase productivity. With the ability to perform multiple operations in a single setup, manufacturers can save time and money by eliminating the need for multiple machines and setups.
What are the main components of a CNC machining center?
CNC machining center is a complex machine, it consists of many core components, are you confused about the main components of machining center?
So what are the different parts of a CNC mill or machining center? The figure below provides a breakdown of its main components.
1# Bed frame
The bed frame of a CNC machining center is the base that supports the machine’s components and holds the workpiece during machining.
It is typically made of heavy-duty materials such as cast iron, steel, or granite to provide stability and reduce vibration during machining.
The bed frame must be designed to be extremely strong and precise, high-quality bed frame is essential for achieving high precision and accuracy in the machining process, while a poorly designed bed can lead to errors and inconsistencies.
The spindle of the CNC machining center is a rotating part that fixes the cutting tool and performs cutting operations on the workpiece. It can be regarded as the “heart” of the CNC machining center.
A servo motor is installed above the main shaft to drive it to rotate, and the maximum speed can reach more than 10,000 rpm/min.
The spindle is designed to be very precise and rigid, and is often equipped with bearings or other components that reduce vibration and ensure smooth rotation.
The spindle is critical to the performance of the machine as it directly affects the quality and precision of the finished part.
It has many forms, including direct connection type, belt type, electric spindle, and gear type. Different forms have great differences in speed and rigidity.
A standard CNC machining center is usually composed of three axes, namely X, Y, and Z.
The X axis moves left and right, the Y axis moves forward and backward, and the Z axis moves up and down.
A table is installed on the X-axis, on which the workpiece is placed, and a spindle assembly is installed on the Z-axis.
Usually the three axes are driven by screw rods and guide rails, and some high-end machines are driven by linear motors.
Additional rotary axis or C/A or B (depending on configuration)
4# Automatic Tool Changer(ATC)
It is the main core component of the CNC machining center machine.
An automatic tool changer (ATC) is a device used in manufacturing and machining to automatically change tools during production without human intervention.
In simple terms, it is like a robot that helps the machine switch between different tools quickly and efficiently.
Imagine you’re working on a project that requires you to use different tools, such as a hammer, screwdriver, and wrench.
Instead of constantly stopping work to switch between these tools manually, the automatic tool changer will do the job for you, saving time and effort.
By using ATC, manufacturers can significantly speed up production, reduce errors caused by manual tool changes, and increase the precision and accuracy of their products.
In short, automatic tool changers play a vital role in making manufacturing processes faster, more efficient, and more reliable.
5# CNC controller
A CNC controller is the “brain” of a CNC machining center.
It’s a computerized system that interprets your design or CAD file and controls the movement of the machine’s cutting tools to create your desired product.
Different from traditional computers, CNC controllers can only recognize G code instructions.
The controller receives information from various sensors and feedback devices, such as encoders and limit switches, to monitor the machine’s position and performance.
It then sends signals to the machine’s motors to move the cutting tool along the designated path, at the right speed and with the necessary precision.
Modern CNC controllers are typically equipped with user-friendly interfaces that allow you to enter your design parameters and monitor the machining process in real-time.
They also feature advanced features such as automatic tool changers, tool wear compensation, and adaptive machining that optimize the machining process and minimize errors.
Usually, the prices of CNC controllers vary greatly. Currently, popular brands include Fanuc, Siemens, and Heidenhain.
6# Lubricating device
Lubrication components are an essential part of any CNC machining center, as they help to keep the machine’s moving parts working smoothly and prevent excessive wear and tear.
There are several types of lubrication systems used in CNC machines, including grease lubrication, oil lubrication, and air-oil lubrication.
lubrication components are critical for maintaining the longevity and performance of your CNC machining center.
Proper lubrication can help reduce maintenance costs, improve machining accuracy, and extend the life of your machine.
7# Chip conveyor
Chip conveyors, also known as chip removal systems or chip augers, are a necessary component of CNC machining centers.
They help to remove the chips and debris generated during the machining process, keeping the work area clean and reducing the risk of damage to the machine.
There are several types of chip conveyors, including hinge belt conveyors, scraper conveyors, and magnetic conveyors.
These systems typically involve a conveyor belt or chain that moves the chips and debris away from the machine and into a collection area, such as a bin or container.
A chip conveyor is usually an optional option, but TAICNC recommends that you choose one when purchasing a CNC machining center, which is very helpful for you.
8# Cooling device
Most CNC machining centers have coolant tanks to help supply coolant to the cutting surface or the spindle with the tool during machining.
This helps prolong the life of the machine and its parts. In addition to this, the coolant will remove the heat generated during machining, thus controlling the temperature.
The CTS (COLANT Through Spinle) System is Recominged for Machine Operations that Involution Deeper Drilling (More than 4 Times The Diameter) Vities in Molds and Dies. The Standard Cooland Pressure Should Be Around 30BAR, with Options to Increase to 70Bar if necessary. However, only a few select applications would require even higher cooler pressures.
9# Rotary table
The rotary table is an option in the vertical machining center, and the capability of 4-axis or 5-axis simultaneous machining can be realized by adding the rotary table.
A rotary table is a standard option on horizontal machining centers, which can rotate 360° to complete multiple surface machining.
10# Sheet metal
A beautiful and functional sheet metal is what everyone wants when buying a CNC machining center.
Although the sheet metal is only a shell, it is very important.
Poorly designed sheet metal can affect the machine operator experience and can also create coolant leaks.
How to choose the CNC machining center that suits you
There are many specifications of CNC machining centers on the market, how to choose the machine that suits you is very important.
Here are some key elements you must know when choosing a CNC machining center:
1# Determine processing needs
You need to determine the size and shape of the parts you want to machine in order to choose the right CNC machining center for your machining needs.
- According to the size of the parts to determine the size of the machine (table, axis travel)
- If you need to process complex shapes and contours, you need to choose a CNC machining center (4-axis, 5-axis) with a high-precision control system and multi-axis control.
- Refer to your part processing process to choose the right type of machine, vertical, horizontal or double column?
2# Confirm processing material
Most CNC machining centers are able to accommodate a wide variety of materials. But there are still some notable points.
CNC tapping centers, while fast, are less suitable for heavy-duty milling.
If you manufacture precision molds, the requirements for spindle type and speed are very high, so you must choose a high-speed machine, for example, the HSK spindle speed is above 18000rpm/min.
If you are using it to manufacture graphite, you must choose a special machine, which is better for dust prevention and vacuuming.
3# Machining accuracy requirements
Different types, brands, and specifications of machining centers can achieve different machining accuracy.
Please confirm the accuracy and surface gloss that need to be achieved before purchasing the machine.
Usually these two factors are related to the core components used by the machine and the spindle speed.
4# Choose the right CNC controller
Do you or your workers have a familiar CNC controller?
There are many CNC controllers currently on the market.
Usually when we buy a machine, we will choose the controller that we are more proficient in.
For 3 and 4-axis machines, FANUC, Mitsubishi, and Siemens CNC controllers are usually selected.
For 5-axis machines, high-end CNC controllers such as Heidenhain and Siemens are usually selected.
#5 Price budget
A CNC machining center is an expensive and long-term investment.
So your cost budget for the machine you are about to buy is particularly important.
This involves a number of factors, as follows:
- Nachine type
- Machine size
- Number of axes
- Machine brand
- Country of manufacture
- Training fee
According to your own budget, you can choose the machine with the right price by referring to the above factors.
Choosing a CNC machining center that suits you needs to consider multiple factors, and conduct comprehensive analysis and comparison.
Only after fully understanding your own processing needs and the characteristics of the machine can you make the right choice.
What is the price of CNC machining center？
When you decide to buy a CNC machining center, you must be very concerned about the price of the machine, right?
As we mentioned earlier, a CNC machining center is an expensive and long-term investment.
We need to choose the machine with the right price according to our own situation to maximize the return.
Prices for CNC machining centers vary widely. A machine can cost anywhere from less than $20,000 to several million dollars, depending on the brand of the machine, the use of different components, its complexity, etc.
This largely depends on the following key considerations:
- What standard or application is the machine used for?
- What type of machine is this? (vertical, horizontal, double column)
- How many axes does the machine have? 3, 4 or 5 axes
- What is the size of the machine required (depending on the size of the machined parts)?
- What is the required spindle power, torque and revolutions per minute (RPM)?
- What is the required accuracy?
- What is the required CNC control system?
- Do you need a machine from a well-known brand?
- Which country are you planning to buy from?
For example, a machine that needs to meet dimensions of 1 meter in X and 0.6 m in Y with an 8,000 RPM spindle, sufficient to achieve 50-75 micron accuracy, could cost as much as $40,000. A similarly sized machine capable of 10-15 micron accuracy will cost $50,000 to $80,000, while a similarly sized machine (aka “mother machine”) capable of 3-5 micron accuracy will cost upwards of $100,000.
The CNC machining center is very cool, almost every practitioner wants to own it, but its cost is relatively high, so many people choose manual machines, let’s take a look at the approximate price of CNC machining centers on the market.
Vertical Machining Center Price
- Entry level: $20,000 – $55,000
- Mid-range: $55,000 – $130,000
- High end: $120,000 – $350,000
- Entry level: $63,000 – $82,000
- Mid-range: $95,000 – $153,000
- High end: $150,000 – $500,000
Five axis machining center price
- Entry level: $61,000 – $108,000
- Mid-range: $220,000 – $560,000
- High end: $580,000 – $2,900,000
The following are the price lists of some popular machining center brands, just for your reference.
|Brand/Model||Type||Price Range (USD)||X/Y/Z-Axis Travel (mm)||Spindle Speed (rpm)||Max Cutting Feed Rate (m/min)|
|Haas VF-2SS||Vertical Machining Center||$60,000 – $150,000||762/406/508||12,000||35|
|Mazak FH-4800||Horizontal Machining Center||$200,000 – $500,000||560/610/625||12,000||60|
|DMG MORI DMU 50||5-Axis Machining Center||$150,000 – $350,000||500/450/400||18,000||60|
|Okuma MB-5000H||Horizontal Machining Center||$200,000 – $500,000||730/730/880||15,000||60|
|Makino PS65||Vertical Machining Center||$100,000 – $250,000||650/400/500||14,000||60|
|Doosan DNM 6700||Vertical Machining Center||$100,000 – $250,000||1,300/670/625||12,000||36|
|Kitamura HX250iG||Horizontal Machining Center||$150,000 – $350,000||560/610/625||15,000||60|
|Mori Seiki NHX4000||Horizontal Machining Center||$300,000 – $700,000||560/610/625||14,000||60|
|FANUC Robodrill D21MiA5||Vertical Machining Center||$60,000 – $150,000||500/400/330||24,000||54|
|Hyundai Wia KF5600||Vertical Machining Center||$80,000 – $200,000||1,050/560/630||12,000||30|
Who are the top manufacturers of CNC machining centers?
A CNC machining center is a global machine with numerous manufacturers all over the world.
Different manufacturers have strong capabilities in their respective fields.
But the top manufacturers are usually not the best sellers, the following is the list of top CNC machine manufacturers in the world:
1# DMG MORI
Country: Germany and Japan
DMG MORI SEIKI CO., LTD. is a manufacturer of machine tools, peripherals and systems, with more than 160,000 installations around the world. Mori Seiki is directed by President Masahiko Mori (Mori Masahiko), Dr. Eng., and employs over 4,000 individuals worldwide.
In the 21st century, DMG MORI SEIKI CO., LTD. established the Digital Technology Laboratory (DTL) in Davis, California, USA. The mission of the DTL is to develop advanced software for new products.
2# Mazak Corporation
3# Okuma Corporation
Okuma offers a wide range of machine tools, including horizontal and vertical lathes, horizontal and vertical machining centers, and grinding machines. The company also manufactures and sells a variety of tooling and accessories for its machine tools. In addition to manufacturing and selling machine tools, Okuma also provides technical support and training to its customers.
Okuma has sales and service locations in over 100 countries, and is committed to providing high-quality, reliable machine tools to customers around the world.
4# Haas Automation
Country: United States
Haas Automation is the largest machine tool builder in the United States, and one of the largest builders of CNC machines in the world. We manufacture a complete line of CNC vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, turning centers, 5-axis machining centers, and rotary products, as well as a wide selection of fully integrated automation solutions, including automatic parts loaders, pallet-pool systems, and 6-axis robot systems.
5# Makino Milling Machine
As the industry leader in CNC machining center design and digital innovation, Makino introduces game-changing machining solutions for premium performance. We produce the world’s most accurate and highest quality metal-cutting and EDM machines— horizontal machining centers, vertical machining centers, 3-axis, 4-axis and 5-axis machining centers, graphite machining centers, and wire and sinker EDMs.
6# Doosan Machine Tools
Country: South Korea
Doosan Group is a South Korean multinational conglomerate corporation. In 2009, the corporation was placed in the Fortune Global 500 index. It is the parent company of Bobcat and Škoda Power. Doosan Group is the oldest running company in South Korea and is ranked as one of the world’s top 10 largest heavy equipment manufacturers in 2018.
FANUC is a global leader in industrial automation and CNC machines, headquartered in Yamanashi, Japan.
In the field of CNC machining, there should be no one who does not know the FANUC controller.
In addition to CNC controllers, FANUC’s product line includes CNC machine tools for milling, turning and grinding, as well as robots and other automation equipment.
8# Swiss Mikron Group
The Mikron Group develops, produces and markets highly precise, productive and adaptable automation solutions, machining systems and cutting tools. Rooted in the Swiss culture of innovation, Mikron is a global partner to companies in the automotive, pharmaceutical, medtech, consumer goods, writing instruments and watchmaking industries.
9# Starrag Group Holding AG
Starrag Group is a global technology leader in manufacturing high-precision machine tools for milling, turning, boring and grinding workpieces of metallic, composite and ceramic materials. Principles customers are internationally active companies in the Aerospace and Turbines, Industrial and Transportation as well as Luxury Goods and Med Tech sectors. In addition to its portfolio of machine tools, Starrag Group provides integrated technology and maintenance services that significantly enhance customer quality and productivity.
10# CHIRON Group SE
The CHIRON Group works as an umbrella over individual brands with their specific competences, multi-brand offers, and user industries: The CHIRON Group is a strong, agile unit.
Why are we sought throughout the world as specialists for vertical milling and mill-turning machining centers, and for our turnkey and automation competence? Because on a daily basis, about 1,900 employees tackle complex demands and develop future-proof solutions with real team spirit.
Where can I buy a CNC machining center?
As you may have noticed, there are many companies operating CNC machining centers around the world.
As a leading CNC machine manufacturer in China, TAICNC offers a wide range of CNC machining centers and 5-axis machining centers in different sizes and configurations to meet your needs.
You can browse our product catalog or fill in the contact form for consultation.
Let TAICNC help you achieve high-quality CNC processing
After reading the above content, do you already have the answer to how to choose a CNC machining center?
In conclusion, purchasing a CNC machining center requires careful consideration of various factors, including the machine’s type, specifications, and features, as well as the supplier’s reputation, after-sales service, and pricing.
It is important to do thorough research, compare different options, and communicate with the supplier to ensure that the machine meets your specific needs and requirements.
Additionally, arranging for delivery, installation, and commissioning should also be carefully planned and coordinated to avoid any delays or issues.
By following this guide, you can make an informed decision and purchase a CNC machining center that will help you achieve higher precision, efficiency, and productivity in your manufacturing processes.