Horizontal Machining Center

In the last post, we have acquired some basic information about the vertical machining center. Well, the usual distinction between horizontal machining Center and vertical machining centers is their axis of action. In this instance, both of these machines are incredibly essential to the world’s machining industry.

This post will concentrate mainly on the horizontal machining center. We will show some basic facts on what it is and how it operates. In addition, we will also demonstrate the broad applicability of this equipment to a specific production.

At the end of this article, we will highlight a few HMC machines ideal for novices. In addition, we will also assist you in selecting the right HMC machine for your project.

What are Horizontal Machining Centers

The principle of horizontal machining centers originates from the cutting position to the ground, which may perform several jobs concurrently. We interpret Horizontal machining centers as the machining done horizontally.

Technically we can also state that a horizontal machining center is a drilling and milling machine where the machine fits the main spindle on the horizontal axis to the worktable.

The developers created the Horizontal machining center to increase productivity, precision, and efficiency on the factory floor. HMCs enable two-pallet changer integration, which may improve spindle uptime and minimize human error.

If we go more thorough description, we can state that horizontal machining, also known as milling, depends on rotary cutters to remove metal from a workpiece. Horizontal machining happens on a horizontal machining center (HMC), which uses a spindle parallel to the ground floor.

In the HMC Machines, Tools stay outside the tool holder with a horizontally oriented spindle and cut across the side of a workpiece, causing chips to fall away from the table. Horizontal machining centers also enable two-pallet changer integration to simplify unattended operation and decrease component cycle times.

However, based on this idea, today’s sophisticated technology has developed numerous multi-tasking HMC machines. Most of the famous examples are Horizontal milling and drilling machine. Besides, HMC equipment also comprises lathe and Deep hole drilling machines.

The production line utilizes Horizontal machining for the bulk manufacturing of metal components in many types of industries. There are NC and CNC-controlled machines with various cutting capabilities. However, today, new horizontal machining centers offer fast tool change, excellent cutting efficiency, and high accuracy.

What are the advantages of a Horizontal Machining center?

While horizontal and vertical machining centers are particularly suitable for distinct tasks, there is considerable overlap between the two. When choosing a horizontal machining center for your project, here are several essential benefits.

Horizontal machining centers are highly regarded machine tools for two primary reasons. Firstly, the handy and stiff worktables can handle various kinds of machining jobs in a shorter period. Secondly, the gathering of chips from the workpieces is more available due to the structure and, of course, the assistance of gravity. This case illustrates why horizontal machining centers are more suitable than their vertical equivalents.

When it organizes components, it is essential to distinguish between a horizontal and a vertical machining center. The vertical machining center features perpendicular cutters. In contrast, the horizontal ones are parallel to the worktable or the ground.

Horizontal machining flows rapidly through the machining center, eliminating the requirement for additional machining passes with lighter cuts and enabling an overall improvement in efficiency and quality. Undoubtedly, It saves a lot of time and improves the overall productivity of the workshops.

One of the essential benefits of Horizontal machining is the milling at various angles. A horizontal CNC machine may apply tools to the workpiece at multiple angles.

You may execute more complicated components utilizing a horizontal machining center. On the other side, you will discover certain restrictions operating the conventional machining center.

Finally, the Horizontal machining center has improved capacity, accuracy, and repeatability, making machining more common in automated production.

HMC Machine Structure & How it works

A Horizontal machining center features distinct chambers in a contemporary HMC machine. The latest HMC machines can execute several jobs at the same time.

A typical HMC machine includes a tool changer, tools for cutting, Index table, Tool-interchange arm, Travelling column, Spindle, Spindle Carrier, CNC control Panel, Pallets, and bed. Check out the image below, and it will make you clear on all these chambers.

Horizontal Machining Center
A horizontal-spindle machining center equipped with an automatic tool changer. Image from a cited reference source (Serope Kalpakjian & Steven Schmid: Manufacturing Engineering & Technology)

How does an HMC machine work?

The workpiece is placed on a pallet or module that may be moved and turned (oriented) in different directions in a machining centre. Once a given machining process ends, another operation starts, necessitating reindexing the workpiece on its pallet.

After the machine has performed all machining processes, the pallet containing the final item automatically moves away. Another pallet is moved into place by an automated pallet changer. All motions are computer-controlled and cycle times for pallet change are on the order of 10-30 seconds.

A machining center is equipped with an automated tool changer (ATC) (ATC). Depending on the specific design, up to 200 cutting tools may be kept in tool storage. In specific unique or significant machining centers, you may provide additional tool storage. The machine automatically chooses the cutting tools for the quickest route to the machine spindle.

It swings to capture a specific tool and puts it in the spindle. The machine recognizes the tools by bar codes, encoded tags, or memory chips connected directly to their tool holders.

You may fit the machining centers with the tool control and control of the workpiece that gives the machine control system information to adjust for any changes in the tool settings or caused by wear. Touch probes may be placed into a tool holder to identify the workpiece reference surfaces for choosing tool settings and online inspection of machined workpieces.

The greatest size that the cutting tools can reach to operate around a component in a machining center is the work envelope -a phrase used for the first time in connection with the industrial robots.

Application of HMC Machine

Researchers have found the HMC machines in virtually all automated sectors. There is almost no aspect of producing complicated components that the automated HMC machining center does not affect. Everyone in the manufacturing industry should be aware of what an HMC machine can accomplish for their business.

There is a substantial increase in demand for CNC programmers because of the widespread use of HMC machines in different automated sectors. Many schools have sprung up to educate the operation and programming of CNC machines to fulfill these needs.

Most industries will explore adopting HMC machining centers in the future instead of conventional machines. As a result, understanding the use of HMC machines is critical.

Machinery Shops

HMC machines are an excellent option for starting a metal processing company in any market across the globe. Modern HMC machines are capable of doing several jobs at once. Metal component processing, such as complicated gear training, turning, finishing, deep hole drilling, and so on.

These workshops seek to meet the needs of the city’s single clients. They resolve issues and design a functioning component for the machines.

Metal Industries

Most metal industries utilize HMC machines to increase production and productivity. These HMC machines may execute various tasks depending on their intended use, including forming, turning, machining cams, ultra-precision machining, and hard turning.

Every HMC machine includes a tool changer chamber where you may store several tools for machining components. As a result, CNC control can effectively execute several cutting operations simultaneously without the need for human intervention.

Automotive Industries

Accuracy is the ultimate aim of every automobile sector, as well as the aircraft industry. Space requires components that are free of flaws and follow the laws of physics to the letter. In this situation, the precision of conventional CNC machines cannot guarantee such a degree of accuracy.

HMC machines, on the other hand, are capable of producing precision components for aerospace and other industries. Modern HMC machines, on the other hand, save time and do not need human intervention. You are ready to start just by supplying programs.

How to choose the right HMC machine?

Choosing the right equipment to start a company requires extensive study. On the other hand, this part is for you if you did not already purchase the HMC machine. We have highlighted a few areas for your convenience.

Basic criteria

Some of the factors that you would need some consideration to select the machine. The configurations: the size of the workpiece, nature of operations, number of set-ups required to complete the procedures, special features necessary to support intended process, requirement to camouflage loading and unloading time of the components when the machining cycle is in progress, methodology of workpiece holding and clamping, cost of manufacturing, precision level of the element (demand on the process), the lifetime cost of ownership, technical abilities of the shopfloor manager, analyzing if the customer is a job shop or end-user and if the requirement is a replacement machine on an existing line of devices.

New or used horizontal machining center?

This situation depends on the budget and level of your experience. If you want to move for the used HMC machine, you must consider the following few factors. If your budget and experience suit your requirements, it would be better to go for the new HMC machine.

Machine hours

Another essential thing to consider when purchasing a computer is the amount of time it spends recorded. However, all hours recorded serve the same purpose and have the same effect.

It might be beneficial if you requested your dealer to reduce power-on hours and time. Cutting time is calculated based on the amount of time the machine spends working on materials.

This data indicates how much effort each component, such as the spindle, has undergone. Furthermore, you will learn if the components need to be changed or not.

Tolerance of the Machine

While buying, always question the seller about the tolerance. Here, tolerance refers to the variation of the physical dimensions of a produced item. Even though usual, a deviation is a component of the production process caused by external variables that may readily influence the machinery, such as temperature and humidity.

Your Budget

There are various characteristics and multi-tasking capacities with the HMC machines. Depending on your budget, you may obtain a more or less featured device. In this instance, we will offer the three most popular budgeted HMC machines after this article.

You may also opt for a used HMC machine if you are seeking additional functionality. In this situation, you must examine the following two aspects when purchasing the used Horizontal machining center.

Spindle Utilization

Making money on any CNC machine involves maintaining the spindle spinning to produce chips with minimum human involvement. Therefore, Choosing a strong spindle is essential than the characteristics of the guide rail.

Top 3 Horizontal Machining Center for beginners

This section will show the most common three HMC machines that will be the best for novices. We shall create a specification summary in every part. Thus, you will get a basic concept of every HMC machine we present today. So let’s dive in.


This horizontal machining center accomplishes everything from exact, stable mass production machining to lengthy, continuous die/mold applications. From heavy-duty cutting to high precision work, this HMC is available with different spindles to provide performance to meet a variety of industrial needs.

The largest machine capacity is 700 mm x 90 mm x 780 mm with a rotating pallet size of 500 x 500 mm. The spindle speed is changeable with a range of 50 to 6000 rpm. In this instance, spindle power is 30/22 kW.

Makino Horizontal 4-axis

This 400mm, Makino horizontal machining center is a specific option for high-volume small-parts manufacturing. This machine is suitable for handling a broad range of component types and materials.

Unfortunately, the high-power spindle requirement for heavy-cutting ferrous applications translates to slow performance and wasteful costs when milling near net-shaped aluminum die-cast components.

This model has a maximum capacity of 560mm x 640 mm x 640mm with a pallet size of 400 x 400 mm. The spindle includes customizable characteristics up to 120,000 rpm. The overall weight of this machine is 400kg.

Haas Automation EC-400

This Haas HMC machine is also suitable for high-volume manufacturing and unattended operation. The all-new EC-400 is quicker, more compact, more rigid, and more competent than ever before. It has a more extended work envelope, quicker rapids, complete 4th-axis pallet indexing, and improved chip handling. Haas offers a 6-station pallet pool and high-capacity tool changer for prolonged production and natural lights-out capabilities.

The travel axis range is approximately 559 mm x 635 mm x 559 mm with a maximum pallet weight of 400kg. As usual, the spindle speed is adjustable up to a maximum of 15000 rpm.


The Developers created Horizontal machines to increase productivity, precision, and efficiency on the factory floor. HMCs enable two-pallet changer integration, which may improve spindle uptime and minimize human error.

There is a considerable number of applications where HMC computers are superior to VMC machines. Undoubtedly, HMC computers are more productive than VMC machines. We have shown the advantages and use of the HMC machines above.

However, To select the right HMC machine, you need to examine whether you will purchase a new or used HMC machine, Your budget, Spindle characteristics, etc. On the other hand, if you select the used HMC machine, you should question the dealer about the tolerance and time of the used components. So that if required, you may replace them.

We have also given you the three most popular HMC machines suitable for the novice. All these three have nearly identical features and performance. These three also may be the best-budgeted choice for you.