Milling Machine

The History Of Milling Machines

Milling machines use a spinning bit to cut through materials. This is normally done at an angle with the material being pushed forward or down depending on the machine. This normally takes place in a manufacturing environment by mid-scale economy workers.

Rotary filing developed into milling. The concept was similar except the material was stationary and not angled. Rotary filing can be dated back to the early 1800’s. Eli Whitney is credited with a milling machine in 1818 by some but others also deserve the credit and interchangeable parts and milling were created so fast and over such a vast area it is impossible to accurately say who did what.

Many years passed before records started to be kept regarding the advances in machining. James Nasmyth invented a machine that was able to machine all six of the sides of a hex nut in 1831. This advancement used an indexing fixture to hold the nut.

Milling Machines Post WWII

In the 1830’s Gay, Silver, & Co devised a way to use vertical positioning in a more effective way. Fredrick Howe was with Gay, Silver & Co at the time and took those lessons to seriously and in 1852 came out with a 3-axis travel milling machine. He was outdone by an employee which he had tasked with finding a solution for milling spirals. Joseph R. Brown came up with a universal milling machine that was widely accepted in the industry in 1862. Brown’s invention started an avalanche of ideas that reinvented milling and shook the industry to its foundation.

John T. Parsons is credited with the invention of the CNC Machine. He was awarded national and industry awards for his professional accomplishments including the designation of “The Father of the Second Industrial Revolution” by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1975.

The idea was batted around in a post WWII environment due to the airplane industry wanting more precise parts. The Air Force became involved in 1949 and started to explore the idea further at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT). By then John Parsons had already begun to develop a process in which computers aided the human operating in the machining process. At that time the punch card operated system was considered computerized.

IBM and MIT worked on the servos and in 1952 a reliable servo was available. It was the implementation of the servos that pushed the numerical control. After numerical control was realized the second industrial revelation began.

In 1958 Parsons became acutely aware of what he had stumbled upon and patented a Motor Controlled Apparatus for Positioning Machine Tool (patent number 2,820,187). What started as a huge piece of machinery that was only in factories became something that was in small shops and garages across the country.

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