Equipping your shop operations with the appropriate types of precision machining equipment ensures that you can meet customer demand for low volume and high volume production orders. One type of machine to add to your system set up is the milling machine. A milling machine is a type of subtractive manufacturing process where the equipment will remove materials using rotary dies to create the finished part or product.

What to Know Before Buying Used Milling Machines

The costs of new milling machines can range from $10K up to $300K, while a used machine is usually less expensive and can have price ranges from $5,000 up to $12,000. If your budget is leaning towards buying a used piece of equipment, here are some considerations to think about before making any purchase.

Project Type and Amount

The size and length of the projects will be factors in picking the right used milling machine for the job. Some machines are great for long and large projects, while others are more suitable for smaller parts made from lighter metals. Also, keep in mind the accuracy and precision that is required from the machine. 

You may have a project that will be mass-produced but does not require tight accuracies, so you can make the parts on a faster, used machine. Other custom projects that require precision tolerances of .0001 would benefit from a slower milling machine that can provide higher degrees of accuracy.

Machine Types

Used milling machining centers come in two basic categories: vertical machines and horizontal machines. Most milling machines will fall into one of these categories based on the spindle or cutting tool’s orientation and how the material will be moved to perform the cutting work. Figuring out the type of machines that will work best for the project will allow you to make the correct purchase.

Some vertical mills, such as turret mills, have the stationary spindle fixed vertically as the bed table will move vertically or horizontally. Other vertical mills like bed mills will allow the beds to only move horizontally as the spindles that are fixed at a vertical axis will move up and down as required. 

A used vertical mill is an ideal choice for projects that are only worked from one side such as sinking dies. Yet keep in mind that certain vertical machines, such as turret mills, work better for small projects and lighter metals while bed mills can work with larger projects with heavier metals.

Used horizontal mills have cutting heads instead of fixed spindles. These cutting heads are fixed to the horizontal arbor as certain machines will have multiple cutting heads along the arbor’s length. Horizontal machines may have rotating beds or beds that can only move in a horizontal direction. 

These milling machines are appropriate for projects that require complex cutting, cutting on multiple sides of the part, and for cutting on several different planes. Horizontal mill machines can also work on large projects made with heavier metals.

Manual vs CNC Milling Machine

Milling machines will come as manual or CNC machines. The biggest difference between the two is that a used CNC machine uses computer machines to perform the operations as one worker can operate the machine. Meanwhile, a used manual milling machine relies on the worker to make the cuts on the project while more than one worker may be necessary. 

Both machines will do the same job and, depending on the experience of the operator, can perform fast work based on the complexity of the project. In addition, you may be able to increase the work output of used manual machines to match the output of CNC machines by upgrading the power feeds. Typically advantages for these machines are:

  • CNC mills: very precise and can handle high production runs with more uniform pieces.
  • Manual mills: shorter turn-around time for smaller production runs when doing several different projects as there are no programming settings to change.

Costs are usually the determining factor when deciding between manual mills versus CNC mills. Even for used machines, a CNC mill will cost more than a manual mill.

Part Availability

When buying a used milling machine, you must keep in mind the parts that are available and how these parts will help maintain productivity while keeping costs low. As newer machines are rolled out, some parts will start to become obsolete. So, you will want to keep an eye out on discontinued mill lines and what replacement parts will be available when it comes time to perform maintenance and repairs.


The floor space for the machine tool will play an important factor in the size of the machine and all the functions that it can provide. If you are performing high volume production, you will more than likely need industrial machining centers that can perform all the drilling, boring, and other functions at high rates of speed to meet production demands. If you have scaled-down operations, or you will be using the machine tool infrequently, then a smaller commercial used machine may be more appropriate.

New & Used Machinery Dealer

When it comes down to buying a used mill machine, you will want to work with an expert dealer that can offer a wide selection of machine tools, including Bridgeport mills. Here at Equipment Hub, we offer used milling machines for sale that can satisfy the needs of your operations.

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