BRIDGEPORT MILL Tramming or Indicating the Head to Zero tubalcain
How to Zero a Bridgeport Milling Machine
Many modern Milling Machines (aka :- mills) datum in X, Y and Z axis (and other axis) using a probe and no input from the user. However, many machine shops, whether they are at a school or business, still use Bridgeport Milling Machines that do not have this capability. Due to the excellent quality of construction of these machines, they last a long time and have not been replaced. These machines must be zeroed by hand.
Zero the Vise (American Spelling) Vice (British Spelling)
Make sure the table is clean of any swarf or debris.When using a mill, precision is key and the debris from previous users can affect the alignment of the vice jaw. By using a brush, work towel, and/or compressed air (safety: take extra care when using compressed air.) to remove all errant chips.
Get your vise and set it on the mill's table.You will need mounting bolts and nuts as well. Generally, the center of the table is the best spot to put the vise. Position the vise so that its clamps are parallel to the long side. Make sure that the vise's tightening bolt is pointed towards you for easy access. Now hand tighten the bolts.
Obtain a dial indicator.Mount this in the mill using a collet by tightening the machine from the top. Do not operate mill with dial indicator attached. Position the table so that the tip on the indicator is touching the stationary clamp of the vise.
- The indicator dial is designed to move if the vise is not parallel to the x-axis. To straighten the vise, move the table in the y-axis and pay close attention to the dial. Make adjustments to the vise until the dial does not move when the table is moved in the y- axis.
Tighten the vise with a wrench.Make it tight but do not overdo it.
Zero Your Part in the Vise
Place your part in the vise.Obtain a set of parallels that will raise your part out of the vise high enough to work on but still be secure. Tighten the vise so that the part is snug but do not tighten all the way at first.
Using a rubber mallet, hammer the part down onto the parallels.When the part is flat, the parallels shouldn't move. Once you have gotten the part in flat, tighten the vise the rest of the way and recheck the parallels. Repeat step 2 if parallels move.
Obtain an edge finder and appropriate collet and attach to the mill similar to the dial indicator.Start up the mill and run it between 500 and 1000 RPM. Do not change the RPM of the mill without the machine running.
Jog the edge finder to a flat side on either the left or right side of your part.Your edge finder should look like it's spinning off balanced.
Move the edge finder slowly towards the part.When the edge finder "jumps" into spinning straight, the edge finder will straighten out and spin on center, slowly continue adjustment until the edge finder kicks out to one side or the other perpendicular to the axis you are trans versing on. Stop adjustment at this point.
Zero your mill on the x-axis.This is your zero point. Remember that this point is actually off from the side of the part by the length of the radius of your edge finder. If you want the zero to be on the edge of the part instead of the radius of the edge finder away simply use either + or - the radius depending in the direction of approach instead of 0.0000 when zeroing the either digital readout or the dials on the hand wheels.
Repeat the zeroing process using either the front or back of your piece to find your zero point on the y-axis.
Use your mill.Your mill should now be zeroed and ready to go. Remember the measurement implications that come along with using an edge finder.
- Do not use a mill unless you have proper safety training. They are very powerful and can cause major injury.
Things You'll Need
Vise Nuts and Bolts
Different Size Wrenches
Sources and Citations
- After - Bridgeport Machine Repair & Rebuild. Retrieved from:
- How to Square a Vise (the easy way). 2013.
- Checking Basic Mill Setup. 2008.
- Parallels. 2002.
- 1/4" Shank Micro Edge Finders. 2003. .
Video: BRIDGEPORT MILL Tip #1 Tramming the Head to Zero using a plunge base indicator
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