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Understanding Machining with a Vertical Machining Center & 4th Axis

 What is meant by VMC Machine?

As opposed to the machining with a horizontal machining center (HMC), CNC machines with the vertical machining centers (VMC) have vertically oriented spindles. VMC workpieces are usually mounted on top of their table and perform standard 2.5 or 3 axis machining operations. VMC are useful for creating the parts, die or molds with precision, accuracy, repeat-ability and surface finishes.

The term ‘machining center’ almost always describes the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling and drilling machines that have an automatic tool changer and a table that clamps the work-piece in one place. CNC machining is a process that is used in the manufacturing sector, it involves the use of computers to control machine tools.

What is the Difference Between a CNC and VMC?

There is no difference difference between the two machines. A VMC is a machine with a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) controller. As mentioned, the cutting head in this milling machine is vertical, and is a particular type of milling machine where the spindle runs in a vertical axis known as the “z” axis. They are typically enclosed and most often used for cutting metal.

Vertical Machining Center (VMC) with a 4th Axis

Most VMC machines have three axes, the x, y, and z-axis. Axis stands for the number of motors that can be individually driven for positional control of the tool. The x-axis is usually from left to right, the y-axis is front to back, and the z-axis is up and down. On a standard 3-axis VMC, the cutter stays in the vertical direction. In VMC’s, we can add 4th or even 5th axis as well to increase the benefits of the VMC.

Vertical Machining Center (VMC) with the 4th axis

Vertical Machining Center (VMC) with the 4th axis.

If the 4th-axis is added in VMC, then the cutter can rotate around the x-axis which allows the VMC machine to drill holes in the front and back of the product. Hence, VMC that have an additional rotary axis are 4 axes machines. There is a fifth axis as well which adds complexity to the VMC.

Experience – the Capabilities of a DAISHIN fifth axis VMC Machine 

Benefits of Machining with Vertical Machining Center
Horizontal Machining Centers (HMC) usually come with 4th axis as compared to Vertical Machining Centers (VMC) where 3rd axis is still considered as staple machinery in machine shops. It’s also possible to stick a tombstone in the 4th axis, enhancing the pallet changing, and add through spindle coolant as well.  There are several advantages of machining that standard VMC and VMC with 4th axis have to offer such as:

  • In comparison to a HMC the VMC
    • Offers the operator access to its machine chamber, allowing one to easily observe processing conditions – which is an option in most HMC
    • Simpler Set-Up, Management and Functionality
    • Widely used in market, give it’s straightforward bugger,
    • More Versatile in comparison and offers relatively simple CNC program controls
    • Most Economically efficient and effective method of machining metal and/or other substances
    • VMC are simple to use compared to HMC and easier to setup and manage.
    • In a VMC, the debugger is easier hence why it’s widely used in the market.
    • VMC is more versatile compared to horizontal counterparts and have relatively simple CNC controls to program.
    • VMC are the most economical and effective way to machine metal, and other substances.
  •  Note:
    • The primary advantage of working with VMC is that gravity is working with you
    • In metal machining, a stream of water must be poured on the spindle, and again – gravity helps in reaching its target when using the vertical machining center.
    • VMC is the most suitable option for processing plate, cover, and plate-type parts.

Contact Advantage Machining for a Vertical Machining Center Quote Today!


Advantage Machining leverages the versatility, efficiency and other benefits of VMC to provide top quality and value for all your custom machining projects.