At APM, we’re always looking for ways to expand and improve our CNC machining capabilities. One option we are exploring is adding an advanced horizontal machining center (HMC) to our lineup.
According to the Association for Manufacturing Technology, the average cost of an HMC is $375,000, compared to just $115,000 for a VMC. The cost is arguably worth it, though, since HMCs have the potential to handle double the capacity of VMCs. The HMC spindle is configured in a horizontal orientation, allowing for uninterrupted production work. Additionally, a two-pallet workchanger can be loaded onto one side while CNC machining occurs on the other, improving efficiency further.
HMCs are designed with the cutting tool mounted horizontally, making them ideal for handling large and heavy workpieces. These machines are commonly used for roughing and finishing operations, including slotting, drilling, and profiling. They can also produce parts with complex geometries and are often used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and heavy machinery.
The horizontal orientation of HMCs offers several benefits, including less cleanup time, longer tool life, and better finishes. This is because workpiece chips fall out of the way aided by gravity, resulting in a cleaner work environment. Furthermore, HMCs are built with a heavy design and more rigidity for high volume capacity. They can be configured with multiple axes, tombstones, additional vises, and other options to further maximize productivity.
Of course, like VMCs, HMCs have a few disadvantages. For example, they
- Have a fairly large footprint because of their size, so they take up considerable space in even the largest shops
- Are difficult to operate and maintain
- Require more setup time for tooling changes, which can stall productivity