Vertical VS Horizontal Machining Centers

Could a Horizontal Machining Center Help Grow Your CNC Machine Shop?

June 5, 2013

Many CNC machine shops are looking for new markets to serve, new parts to make and new opportunities to grow their business. However, much of these opportunities hinge on the shop’s ability to perform increasingly more precise and complex machining operations at competitive prices. Additionally, many customers require shorter runs, the ability to handle large part families and the flexibility to produce a variety of parts. For machine shops that have long relied on vertical machining centers (VMC), it may be time to consider the advantages of a horizontal machining center (HMC).

Although VMCs often carry a lower initial price tag, the overall reduced cost of operation and the ability to compete for more sophisticated machining business makes investing in a HMC a logical choice. Studies conducted by The University of Michigan find that the average spindle run time for a VMC is just 25%. A HMC, on the other hand, has an average spindle time of 85%, largely due to its ability to process a multi-sided part in one place and, often, with just one setup. Conversely, the same part might require the use of 3 – 4 VMCs.

There are other advantages to a horizontal machining center, including:

  • Lower cost of labor: As an example, an operator machining a 6-sided part on VMCs will move the part 7 or more times to various machines and/or fixtures. By machining the part in a HMC, all operations can be performed in one place, so the operator will touch the part no more than three times. As we know, the fewer times a part is touched, the lower the labor cost.
  • Fewer machines & fixtures required: This same 6-sided part would typically require 4 machining cycles on 4 VMCs. By performing all of the machining in one cycle on one HMC, you reduce overall machining time for the part and reduce the operator hours by a ratio of 4:1. And because the process requires only one cycle, you eliminate the need for additional costly fixtures.
  • Frees up factory floor space. Replacing up to 4 VMCs with one HMC opens up valuable floor space so you can make every square foot of your operation more cost-effective.

If it makes sense that investing in a horizontal machining center will help you grow your business and improve overall productivity, be sure to consult with the experts at Gosiger, Inc. They can help you select the HMC that best matches your requirements, whether for general machining, heavy machining or high-volume. The experienced Gosiger technical specialists can also advise you on the more challenging applications you can address with these versatile machines. And Gosiger technical service and customer support comes with every HMC they install.