Portable milling machines are available in a wide range of sizes to suit in-situ machining projects with the stroke capacity of up to 3m length. But what can you do if you need to open up the working envelope to a much larger size?
This is where the gantry milling provides the solution. Mounting a 2 axis milling rail onto a gantry system increases the working area and at the same time converts it to a 3 axis configuration.
But what are the options and different types of portable gantry mills available? In this article we provide an insight by taking a look at the Mirage gantry mill range.
Gantry Milling Assemblies.The Basics
Below is a self-explanatory illustration showing the key components of a typical gantry assembly.
The 2 major key considerations when choosing a gantry system are how heavy duty it needs to be and the level of precision required. Mirage manufacture 3 types of gantry system, each giving the flexibility to create a wide range of working areas. Below is an overview of 3 systems available.
GMRF Gantry System (Rack Feed)
This modular gantry milling system is designed to suit a wide range of general purpose milling applications The standard base unit uses rails of 1m length, with 1m, 2m and 3m extensions kits available. This unit uses a rack feed to move the milling rail along the guide rails.
Heavy Duty Gantry System (Rack Feed)
This is also a modular but more robust gantry system, designed for heavy duty applications. Standard base unit lengths available are 1m, 2m 3m, 4m. Kits to extend this are available as 2m, 3m, 4m, and 5m. This unit also uses a rack feed to move the milling rail along the guide rails.
Heavy Duty Ball Screw Feed Gantry System (Ball Screw Feed)
This is a modular and more robust gantry system designed for heavy duty applications requiring greater precision than the rack feed type.Increased precision and minimum backlash is made possible by the ball screw type of drive. Standard base unit lengths available are 1m, 2m 3m and 4m. Extension kits are also available as 2m, 3m, 4m, and 5m, however when doing so a longer ball screw is also needed. The maximum ball screw length available is 6m.
Fixing to the work piece
A gantry for a milling machine can be fixed to the job in a variety of ways, each using the bolt holes in the setting plates. Typical methods include simply bolting directly to the work piece, using pipe clamps, or switch magnets attached to the setting plates as shown below.
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