When it comes to buying a benchtop milling machine, there are a lot of different types and brands for you to choose from. Some are better suited for the novice, others are better for veteran machinists.
How do you pick which is the best one? Well, you can read reviews on the internet but that’s like going to your neighbor’s house when he wants to sell his toaster and asking him for advice when all he does is toast bread (note: your neighbor has terrible toast).
In the following article, we will go over what features to look for — depending on your type of project — so you can get the best benchtop milling machine for your needs.
Top 7 Benchtop Milling Machine Comparison Table
What to Consider When Buying a Benchtop Milling Machine
Durability is a factor that you need to consider when choosing a benchtop machine. The construction in terms of rigidity and durability is critical.
For instance, a rigid base and column will enable you to handle the machine more accurately. Those made of cast iron will last for a long time since it is a sturdy material.
Accuracy and Control
To have a successful project, you will need to have control of the machine you are using. It has a lot to do with the angles. Many benchtop milling machines come with different swiveling head angles.
Some of them move right and left at a forty-degree angle and others can go for a full 360 degrees rotation. It offers you maximum flexibility.
The other thing you have to consider is the base. A stable base will help your machine remain stable thus ensure that the work is more accurate.
Power requirement is another critical factor you need to consider while choosing a benchtop milling machine. If you are getting one for home use, a benchtop milling machine with a one-phase motor will be enough. It runs at around 110 to 230 volts.
Anything that is vastly greater is a three-phase motor machine. These machines, however, are used in a professional setting rather than for home use. These machines are also more expensive.
Range of Motion
Another factor to consider when choosing a benchtop milling machine is the range of motion. You need to focus on the x-, y-, and z-axis travel distance. This helps you in placing things where they need to be on the benchtop milling machine.
Remember that everything you add to the machine like a holder or a cutting tool will reduce the available space. With a minimum range of motion, what you can do with the machine is limited.
A regular benchtop milling machine worktable can provide you with more than twenty inches in length and six inches in width. It enables it to support at least a medium-scale project.
You can still use a smaller one according to your needs. The worktable size is something you need to consider when buying a benchtop milling machine.
Horsepower is another factor to consider when buying a benchtop milling machine. The amount of power needed in a home shop milling machine is approximately 5 HP.
If the machine is excellently rigid, about one to three HP motor power will be alright. Rigidity is quite essential in the prevention of energy loss during the machining process.
In some instances, you will be required to use facing mills, thread mills, end mills, taps, and drills. Each of these tools requires a given amount of horsepower to run in the right way.
For instance, if you are going to use a massive facing mill, you will need a higher horsepower to run the tool with ultimate efficiency. Alternatively, if you are going to use a small drill, then a small horsepower will be ideal.
Top 3 Best Benchtop Milling Machine
- Product dimensions: 42.5 x 39.75 x 43.5 inches
- Weight: 739 pounds
- Power source: Corded-electric
- Horsepower: 2 HP
- Voltage: 230 Volts
The Jet JMD-18 350018 Milling/Drilling Machine is a 2 HP one-phase unit with 12 spindle speeds ranging from 15 to 3,000 RPM. The worktable measures 9.5 x 31.75 inches.
This machine is well suited for heavy-duty use including metal cutting, wood milling, and shaping, or fiber milling and shaping. A hinged top belt cover ensures that both the table and the spindle are dust-free during high-speed operation.
If you need to drill, cut, and bevel various kinds of materials, the Jet JMD-18 is for you. This milling machine has a 15 amp powerful motor and dies cast headstock for extra durability.
For easy operation, the headstock of this Jet milling machine is designed so that all axes of movement are on free play and can easily be adjusted up and down according to the needs of your job.
- Product dimensions: 16.93 x 11.02 x 9.45 inches
- Weight: 18.21 pounds
- Power source: AC/DC
- Horsepower: 1.9 HP
- Voltage: 120 Volts
The Proxxon 37110 Micro Milling Machine is the ideal entry-level desktop milling machine for small and large shops alike. It is made of stainless steel. It weighs 18.21 pounds. It is quiet and simple to use.
This machine is the easy way to create mechanical movements and surfaces with precision. Its high-torque motor and wide table provide accuracy with minimal vibration.
The machine’s slim design and lightweight construction make it simple to operate in tight spaces. It also has a great cast-iron base that keeps it stable during use.
All the axes of this milling machine are on free play and feature slides can easily be adjusted. The headstock of this milling machine is made of iron (die-cast) and houses the 24 poles balanced special motor making sure it is stable even when running at high speeds.
- Product dimensions: 23.25 x 22 x 29.5 inches
- Weight: 130.1 pounds
- Power source: Corded-electric
- Horsepower: 0.72 HP
- Voltage: 120 Volts
The Wen 33013 Benchtop Milling Machine provides a wide range of versatility and capabilities. It is an excellent machine that provides woodworkers and mechanists that can channel and groove into a variety of materials including plastic, wood, metal, and many more.
This machine is an efficient machine that precisely channels and grooves into material surfaces to help create contours, flat surfaces, pockets, slots, angled edges, and straight holes.
It features a variable speed that ranges from 100-1100 RPM on the low setting and 100-2500 RPM on the high setting. The variable speed that ranges allow you to precisely control the depth of cut.
The WEN 33013 is precision machined and made of strong cast iron and aluminum. It was designed with a zero-clearance spindle housing for a more efficient grinding experience, and the capability of X, Y, and Z axis offers cutting around any angles you desire.
It comes with an R8 taper to allow it to be compatible with a variety of bits, mills, and cutters; providing users with about a half-inch drilling capacity. Overall, it’s about 23-1/4 by 22 by 29-1/2 inches in size.
What Are the Types of Milling?
1. Knee and Column Type
The knee and column milling machine has a vertical column attached to the bed with all the gear drives that help rotate the knee and saddle.
The knee provides up and down movement to the workpiece on the base of the machine. A saddle is located on the upper part of the knee and moves in a transverse direction.
Under this category we have:
Plain Milling Machine
They are also known as horizontal milling machines and are robust than hand millers.
You can feed the table in various directions:
- Vertical – adjust the table vertically
- Longitudinal – rotate the table
- Cross – move the table parallel to the spindle
Universal Milling Machine
The universal milling machine can perform a wide range of operations as the table can be pivoted at different angles on both sides. The table can move in three directions and can boast the fourth one.
The machine can perform helical milling operations and you can add attachments to increase its capacity. Such attachments include slotting, rotary vertical milling, and index head. You can twist drill, bevel, spiral, and reamer.
2. Fixed Bed Type or Manufacturing Type
The milling machine has a rigid bed attached to the machine. The spindle head is movable but you cannot adjust or arrange the knee and saddle of the machine. Do your cutting by moving in vertical and horizontal directions.
The machines under this category include:
- Simplex milling machine – the spindle head can only move in the vertical direction.
- Duplex milling machine- the spindle can move in a vertical and horizontal direction.
- Triplex milling machine- the spindle can travel in all three directions.
3. Planer Type Milling Machine
They are heavy-duty and large. Their spindle head is adjustable in both vertical and transverse directions. The firm uprights, support the saddles and heads while the cross rails raise and lower the cutters.
4. Special Type
They are uncommon milling machines that perform tasks that other milling achiness cannot. You can move the workpiece or tools in various directions and have a spindle to rotate the cutter.
Some of these machines includes:
- Rotary table milling machine
- CNC milling machine
- Tracer controlled milling machine
- Drum milling machine
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Principle of a Milling Machine?
People who want to use a milling machine should first understand its principle. A milling machine is a machine designed to cut various materials using rotating cutters mounted on a spindle which spin at thousands of revolutions per minute and remove material from the surface.
A milling machine is basically a type of machine tool used for machining different types of materials such as cast iron, aluminum, and steel. These materials are applied with cutting elements such as milling cutters or drill bits.
What Can You do With a Milling Machine?
Milling machines are versatile. The machine works on flat and irregular surfaces. They can also be used to bore, drill, produce slots, cut gears, and make a circular profile. With all these capabilities, the machine can help you do different jobs.
What Are the Advantages of a Milling Machine?
- It helps reduce human errors.
- It uses computer control options to produce a flexible cutting process.
- The milling machine is durable and can handle heavier machines without getting damaged.
- You can customize your cuts.
- The milling machine can use multiple cutters.
- The machine assures accurate cuts.
- It can produce complicated shapes, using single-point cutting and multi-tooth.
- The milling machine can do multiple cuts simultaneously.
- If you use general-purpose cutters and equipment, operational costs are reduced.
- It offers greater finishing precision compared to other machines.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Milling Machine?
- A milling machine is very expensive to maintain and purchase.
- It consumes a lot of electricity.
- It is not so cost-effective for small amounts of products.
- It occupies a large space.
- It is not good at cutting radial cuts.
What is the Difference Between up Milling And Down Milling?
- Up milling – the cutting force has an upward direction hence lift the workpiece from the table.
- Down milling – the cutting force takes a downward direction causing a pressing effect on the workpiece.
- Up milling – uncut chip thickness increases from zero to maximum during the milling process for each tooth. The cutter does not make any cuts at the beginning making the surface hard hence reduce the surface quality.
- Down milling – uncut chip thickness decreases from maximum to zero during the milling process of each tooth. The cutter wears it gradually producing a quality surface.
- Up milling – the cutter rotates against the direction of the table.
- Down milling- the cutter rotates along the direction of the table.
Burr Formation And Removal
- Up milling – burr is formed on the unfinished surface ahead of the tool feed. But the burr is removed in the following passes.
- Down milling- burr is formed on the finished surface on the opposite side of the tool feed. The burr is not removed immediately hence reducing the cutting quality.
Backlash Eliminator Need
- Up milling – backlash eliminator not needed.
- Down milling – backlash eliminator is needed for older machines.
What is the difference between milling and drilling?
The main difference between milling and drilling is the drill dig holes on a surface using the up-down movement with a spinning bit. Milling uses the same motion of a drill but the bits cut sideways to widen the hole or taper it off.
What is the Difference Between a Drill Press And a Milling Machine?
A drill press is made to cut in the z-axis direction to make vertical holes only. Milling machines use rotating cutters to remove material from a surface by feeding the cutter into the workpiece in a particular direction.
Should I Get a Mill or a Lathe?
It will depend on the type of work you are doing. The milling machine is versatile with many tooling options. The different styles of end mills ensure you have all that is needed from start to finish.
A milling machine cuts more diverse pieces than a lather. Lathe machines have limited uses compare to a milling machine. When dealing with cylindrical parts, the lathe has an upper hand.
A hobby or job for that matter can get pretty complicated and tough to manage in a workspace. A benchtop milling machine is a great tool we recommend every home garage to have. It will help you cut, shape and finish your project while making it easier than ever before.