Life is full of choices. From deciding what color to paint your bathroom, which combo meal to order at your favorite fast food restaurant, or whether to name your kid Bob or Jim, each of us is faced each day with decisions big and small. Machine shop life is no different. In many ways, the decisions made there can be every bit as life-altering as picking a spouse or investing in the right (or wrong) mutual fund.
Consider buying a machining center. You’re going to be married to it for the next ten to fifteen years, so choosing the right one is a pretty big deal. Many shops love their verticals, and wouldn’t consider anything else. They’re fast, flexible, and easy to setup—just slap a couple vises on the table, load a program and some cutting tools, and off you go. Horizontal machining centers, on the other hand, offer improved chip flow and easy access to four sides of the workpiece. Each technology offers distinct pros and cons, as well as dedicated fan clubs of machinists who prefer one over the other.
But wouldn’t it be cool if there were a machine tool that offered the best of both worlds? A machine that combines a vertical’s flexibility and ease-of-use with the multi-sided machining capabilities of a horizontal? The old timers reading this might be thinking about the Cincinnati No. 3 universal milling machine they apprenticed on during their twenties, but it turns out there’s a much more modern alternative to that capable but now extinct machine tool.
It’s called the KHV-400 Combination Universal Horizontal/Vertical machining center, and as its mouthful of a name implies, it’s a switch-hitting, metal-munching workhorse. Have a few dozen hydraulic manifolds to make? The KHV-400 allows you to machine the ports on each side using the horizontal spindle, and without relocating the part, machine the top face and intersecting holes with the vertical spindle. The same approach can be used on a variety of everyday workpieces, including mounting brackets, electronics enclosures, engine components, and more.
The machine comes standard with 10,000-rpm cooled spindles, dual tool changers, loads of working space, and twice the productivity. And if you’re wondering about programming what is essentially two machine tools in one, Kent Machine Tool has made switching between vertical and horizontal programming easy with an innovative merge function. Check it out—for many shops, the KHV-400 will settle the vertical vs. horizontal argument once and for all.