What is a Vertical Machining Center (VMC)?

The vertical machining center has been developing for more than 150 years. For years of development, the vertical machining center has become a multi-functional machine with high precision, high efficiency and so on. A vertical machining center is a machine tool which is ideal for complex metal processing. Therefore, it’s very popular among processing industry. Let’s know more about the vertical machining center!

VMC Machine Applications & Uses

Vertical machining, which is also known as milling, uses rotary cutters to remove metal from a workpiece. With a vertically oriented spindle, the tools sticks straight down from the tool holder and generally cut cross the top of a workpiece. CNC vertical machining center can be applied in machinery manufacturing industries with high precision and mass production requirements, such as aerospace, automobile, instrumentation, light and textile, electronic and electrical, mold making, military products, handicrafts, etc. Vertical Machining Center is suitable for processing workpieces with complex shape, high accuracy & precision and multiple procedures.

1. Box type parts

CNC vertical machining center has high efficiency, rigidity, accuracy and automatic tool changing device. If the process flow is well formulated and using proper fixtures and tools, many problems of box type parts machining can be solved.

2. Complex curved parts

The parts with the complex curved surface are widely used, such as propellers, mold cavities, cams, integral impellers of engines, etc. It’s commonly used in the aviation and transportation industry. These kinds of parts with complex curve surface, or box or casing parts with closed inner cavity are difficult to reach the predetermined machining accuracy. It’s hard to be detected by conventional machine tools or precision casting. However, a multi-axis machining center with automatic programming technology and special tools can greatly improve production efficiency and ensure the shape accuracy of the surface, make the processing of complex parts become easier.

3. Special or irregular shaped parts

Irregular machined parts with special shapes. When machining special-shaped components, the more complex the shape is, the higher accuracy is required. VMC can produce all these kinds of parts and components.

4. Board, sleeve and plate parts

These kinds of workpieces often include keyway and radial hole. Vertical machining center could produce board, sleeve and plate parts, such as shaft sleeve, plate with many holes, like motor covers…, etc.

5. New parts in trial production

The machining center has high flexibility and adaptability. When you are going to start another new project, you only need to build and input new programs, or modify some program or utilize some special instructions. You can use the zoom function to realize machining of parts with the same shape but different sizes, which exactly provides great convenience for a small-batch, single piece, multi-variety production or even a new product trial. The system of VMC could greatly shorten the production preparation and trial manufacturing cycle.

Advantages of VMC (Vertical Machining Center)

1. Operator-Friendly – Time Saving

The structural design of VMC allows much better visibility while working on these machines. The design can make the operators much more easily to catch and avoid any potential problems during the milling process. The user-friendly CNC controls make programming simple, and the design of the machine makes the workpieces fixture more easily; therefore, operators would spend less time on setup and programming.

2. Space Saving

Comparing with other types of machining center, such as horizontal machining center, vertical machining center occupies only about 1/3 floor space. Because VMC could save lots of space, CNC vertical machining center is ideal for small companies.

3. Higher Productivity

High productivity refers to doing work in the shortest possible time without sacrificing of quality and with minimum use of resources. Automation integration boosts the productivity of a VMC by decoupling setup procedures from the machining process through automation.

4. Less Expensive than HMC

Compare to horizontal machining center, vertical machining center is much cheaper. The initial investment is lower than horizontal and you can save costs in your production as well.

Vertical Machining Center Features for Improving Productivity

1. Metal-Cutting Capability

Metal cutting capability of vertical machining center could help cutting wide variety of materials. Cutting ability would be the main key for improving the productivity. Therefore, spindle is one of the most important features to evaluate on any vertical machining center.

2. Tooling Support and Capacity

A typical VMC is required to produce a variety of parts, perform quick part change-overs, and check tool quality frequently. However, not all Vertical Machine Centers are designed with these considerations in mind ,it would cause frequent downtime that can quickly add up to higher parts costs, extended delivery times, and most especially it loses a significant amount of profit. That is the reason why manufacturers are seeking some solutions to avoid these kinds of issues that a vertical machine center offers a good amount of cooling capacity.

3. Control Software

The control software can facilitate or limit the flexibility of data storage, coordinate systems, probing, and networking of the machine. If the interface is not user friendly, the operators will spend more time to solve the problem. Needless complexities waste the time of the operators and the uptime of the machine.

4. Automation Integration

Automation integration makes different versions of automation hardware and software work together. It combines several subsystems to work together as one large system. The automation Integration reduces the need of manpower, and also increases the productivity.

5. Fixturing and 4th-Axis Potential

The control software can facilitate or limit the flexibility of data storage, coordinate systems, probing, and networking of the machine. If the interface is not user friendly, the operators will spend more time to solve the problem. Needless complexities waste the time of the operators and the uptime of the machine.

6. Operator-Friendly (Ergonomics)

It gives efficiently customize your work environment and make you feel comfortable and safety while you perform your job. It automation can also improve operator ergonomics through additional time and space to set up workpieces.

7. Productivity Improvement

Increasing the spindle utilization and reduce changeover and setup times to improve productivity. Enhance automatic function to improve flexibility and throughput.

Pros and Cons - Vertical Machines vs. Horizontal Machines

1. CNC vertical machining center


  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to operate and maintain
  • Doesn’t Require Extensive Facility


  • Hard to handle high weight projects
  • Lower production output than HMC
  • Lower strength motor than HMC

2. CNC horizontal machining center


  • Perfect for complex projects
  • Faster processing
  • High Rigidity


  • Expensive
  • Bigger and heavier
  • hard to monitor during processing
Vertical Machining Center Horizontal Machining Center
price Cheaper More expensive
space Smaller Larger
process parts Small parts and accessories
High-weight projects
Structure Vertical Horizontal
remove chips Harder than HMC Easier
debug Convenient Inconvenient
Visible for operators Easy Harder than VMC

Before Buying the Vertical Machining Center, you should think...

There are different types of VMCs with different sizes, equipment, and applications.

1. Material

Different types of tooling and cutters depend on the type of material being processed or the end product being manufactured.

2. Accuracies expected

Make sure the VMC can achieve your accuracy requirement, and especially, whether the performance of system or tools can reach your expectation.

3. Production rates required

Achieve ideal production rate which means VMC need to produce parts in a short time, maintain high quality and minimum use of resources.

4. Fixed Costs - Tooling Costs

Regular inspection and replacement of parts is necessary to keep the machine in the best performance and producing high quality products. If the company never inspects machine tool, that would lead to have more defective product, which would cause potential costs for the company.


Being the most common piece of CNC equipment, it’s easy for CNC vertical machining center to program any complex tools. The system can come fully equipped with an assortment of tools and tool changers, magazines, and carousels. VMC is best for short runs and small sizes.

Are you looking for CNC vertical machining center?Maxmill, as a highly reputed manufacturer in vertical machining centers, can help you finding your ideal VMC. Contact us and let us know your requirements to get best solution!

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