Today’s vertical machining centers (VMCs) offer a wide range of features and capabilities – from 3-, 4- and 5-axis milling and user-friendly CNC controls to a plethora of options that further increase productivity and expand part processing possibilities in terms of shape and geometry. And while all the available variations of VMCs can seem overwhelming, there are three key considerations to keep in mind that will help narrow your selection down to the one that’s perfectly matched for your applications.
1. Identify Your NeedThe best vertical machining center for you is the one that meets your needs. Therefore, the first step when shopping for VMCs is to clearly determine what you need the machine to do. Make a list of the types of materials and parts you plan to machine. Then ask yourself if those parts simple or complex in shape? What types of tolerances do you need to achieve? Will you be producing parts in small or large batches?
The answers to these types of questions will help determine which machine qualities such as spindle speed, axes travels and table size you need. Furthermore, they will help you identify what accessories and/or automation, such as bar feeders or pallet changes can help you increase machine utilization, reduce part cycle times or even run lights out.
2. Mind the ControlThe CNC is an important aspect of machine selection. It simplifies programming and is really a key driver in increasing productivity. That’s why when we developed our MAZATROL programming language in 1981, we changed the course of CNC development and have continued to improve programming over time.
Today’s controls help shop owners solve many of their toughest challenges. They are user friendly and offer conversational programming that enables operators to quickly program jobs at the machine. Our newest control technology, SMOOTH TECHNOLOGY, is available on many Mazak VMCs. MAZATROL SmoothX and SmoothG CNCs have intuitive multi-touch screens similar to that of smartphones, making programming even faster and easier for operators.
Another very important aspect of today’s more advanced controls is their ability to help shop owners naturally progress into the future of full digital integration and data-driven manufacturing. When purchasing a new VMC, keep in mind that manufacturing is changing and digital integration is becoming a bigger factor in helping improve part production, efficiency and profitability. Check out how we’re collecting and using data from the controls in our Mazak iSMART Factory™ in Kentucky.
3. Partner with a Single-Source Provider
Machine tools are an investment, and they can pay big dividends if chosen carefully and utilized to their utmost. One of the best ways to guarantee that you match the right equipment with your needs is to partner with a total solutions provider that can help you clearly define your needs, show you the latest technologies and advancements, and provide the ongoing engineering support you need after your purchase to ensure your machine operates to its fullest potential. Plus, advanced support capabilities become even more important as shops continue to integrate higher levels of automation and plant-wide connectivity to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Whether your application calls for small or large part machining in a low- or high-volume production environment, at Mazak we offer an extensive range of vertical machining centers. To find the best solution for your needs, be sure to take your time finding a quality, reliable, easy-to-operate machine that incorporates the latest, most advanced milling technology for the lowest cost of ownership in the industry.
Contact us to learn more about which VMC is right for you.