Only about 10% of all machining centers have a spindle that can be truly considered both vertical and horizontal (combination). That is, that the machine is just as capable and accommodating of a broad range of applications in either the vertical or horizontal spindle orientation. There are about 400 combination spindle models in the Techspex database.
Most of the SHW line of large envelope machining centers are considered “combination” models. This is possible due to the use of an orthogonal spindle head design in combination with tool-to-workpiece clearances designed into the machine. Granted, the massive ram style spindle travels parallel to the floor and table, so at a glance, some might classify these models as horizontal machining centers. But the spindle centerline is universal, and can therefore address the part vertically or horizontally. The Y-axis becomes the Z-axis when the spindle centerline is positioned perpendicular to the table surface. This spindle position turns the Z-axis into the Y-axis. The opposite is also true when the spindle centerline is positioned parallel to the table surface.
I looked up “orthogonal” in several dictionaries. In the context of the SHW spindles, the term refers to the 90 degree (right angle) relationship between the two axes of rotation built into the spindle. We’ve all heard the term “universal milling machine.” It implies flexible tool-to-part orientation and most often conjures an image of a knee-type mill, like the classic Bridgeport. Suffice it to say, the principle is the same. But like our endlessly expanding universe, today’s universal milling machines are infinitely more universal than when the term was first coined.
SHW does a nice job with videos and animated CAD to illuminate their machine capabilities and provide a more clear understanding of design and function. From the SHW showroom, click the link to the U.S. importers website for SHW highlights and videos. Click the link to SHW’s website for more detail. View all SHW models in a spreadsheet.