Parts of a milling machine

Milling machines are machines formed by a vertical or horizontal axis on which a cutting tool, called a milling cutter, which gives it its name, rotates. These tools are complex and require practice and experience to use, so it is convenient to know in depth each of its parts before starting to work with them. Next, we will see what the main parts of the milling machines are and how they work.

Milling machines are machines made up of various parts designed to carry out high-precision work. Some milling machines, intended for delicate tasks, work through a computer, in which a specialized operator adds the cutting measurements, so that the machine performs the operation itself. 

Milling machine operations are called milling or machining. Machining consists of shaping the metal by cutting, that is, the cutter empties the metal or other solid materials such as wood to obtain specific shapes. In this sense, the axes of the milling machine move along the surface of the milling table to make the cuts and create the shape. 

On the other hand, milling or machining is one of the most common manufacturing processes used in workshops and machinery industries to produce all kinds of high-precision parts, with different formats and sizes, but also for manufacturing of everyday objects like an XXL cat litter box

Likewise, an industrial milling machine is capable of working on all types of metals and hard materials, while a hand milling machine, which is lighter, will be suitable for working on soft materials such as wood or PVC. 

Parts of a milling machine

As we have pointed out when explaining what a milling machine is, this machine is made up of various parts that should be known in order to work with them.


The axes of the milling machines are one of the most important parts of the machine, since the movement of the milling cutter on the part to be machined depends on them and, in addition, they are the ones that determine what type of milling machines we are faced with. In this sense, the most common milling machines are those with 3 axes (X, Y and Z). 

On the other hand, more complex types of milling machines can be found on the market, intended for industrial or high-precision work. Thus, there are 4-axis milling machines, which incorporate the same axes as the 3-axis milling machines, but also add the possibility of rotating the work table when operating on the part, to achieve greater precision. Lastly, the 5-axis milling machine includes the same ones as the previous ones and at the same time allows turning and tilting the part with which it is working, with which much more complex results are obtained than with the previous ones.


The cranks are responsible for moving the axes of the milling machine, so we will find a vertical crank, which moves the vertical axis (Z); a longitudinal one so that the table moves on the X axis; a cross to move on the Y axis and, finally, a head crank, which is responsible for moving the tool head on its own vertical axis.


The head is where the bur should be placed. This piece can also influence the type of router, since depending on how the router bit is placed, we will be facing one type of tool or another. For example, the vertical milling machine is one that has the head in a vertical axis, with a fixed and turret-shaped work table.

On the other hand, it is also possible to find a horizontal milling machine that has the axis and the head horizontal and, finally, the universal milling machine that allows the axis of the head to be moved to place it horizontally or vertically according to the needs of the operator.


The motor is the most important part of a milling machine, since it is about electric tools, which use the power of a motor to carry out their tasks. 

The motors of the milling machines are electric and the cutting power depends on them, as well as the Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) at which the milling cutter can turn. In this sense, the motor is the one that generates the movement of the rotor of the milling machine, which is the one that, in turn, moves the spindle and makes the cut.

The milling machine motor allows you to select various parameters such as cutting speed, spindle speed and feed rate. All of these parameters influence the depth and speed with which the cutter moves over the surface of the material.

Also, the motor determines the axial depth of cut, since a large depth of cut requires a low feed rate so as not to “burn the cutter”. For this reason, milling machine motors often have speed control systems that allow users to set the speed at which the tool moves over the surface.

machining table

The table is the surface on which the parts are placed for machining. Usually, the tables have a clamp with which to hold the pieces so that they do not move when working with them, which would cause accidents.

Some milling machines have tables of different shapes or sizes, for example, circular milling machines have a large round table, with various directions of rotation. Others, such as those with a mobile bridge, have a fixed table and it is the heads and axes that move.


CDC milling machines, that is, Computer Numerical Control machines, have a screen and a data entry system, which is usually a keyboard, with which operators enter the machining instructions that the milling machine will use to move its axes. and perform the task automatically.

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