Everything You Need to Know About TRAK Mills

Established in 1951, Southwestern Industries (SWI) began as a job shop but turned to manufacturing in 1963. SWI focused on machine tool measurement devices until it turned to producing a knee mill conversational language known as CNC.

The different lines of TRAK

Initially, SWI produced the ProtoTRAK for its own brand, TRAK Machine Tools. Under their own branding you will find the ProtoTRAK and EZ TRAK mill machines. However, SWI also produced a version of the ProtoTRAK mill for Bridgeport Machines, and who markets it under the EZ TRAK milling machine brand. That means if you buy a Bridgeport EZ TRAK milling machine, you are actually purchasing an SWI ProtoTRAK. You will find machines using both brandings in this category, although Bridgeport is not owned by SWI nor vice versa.

Basics of choosing a milling machine

Perhaps you are a hobbyist of metal working who has grown past a manual mill or you’ve discovered the drawbacks of 3D printers, such as the limited materials you can use and their lack of precision. You need a milling machine capable of tight tolerances. Maybe this is your first milling machine and you do want to start with a manual mill. You can later convert it to a computer numerical control (CNC) mill or replace it with a new mill like a CNC machine. With respect to power, unless you know that you have 3-phase power in your workshop, do not purchase a 3-phase power machine. Even in an industrial setting, check your power outlets and break box first. You probably need a single-phase machine.

Types and styles of TRAK milling machines

The machines in this category are designed for one-off and small-lot work. They include bed mills, lathes, knee mills, and retrofitted ProtoTRAKs. You can choose from new or used devices. These Southwest Industries TRAK mill machines come in vertical and horizontal designs. This simply determines if the machine’s spindle axis runs up and down or side to side. Whether vertical or horizontal in design, these machines feature swiveling and tilting columns, heads, and tables to accomplish many tasks. If you need to make heavy cuts and require a sturdy machine capable of handling more side load, choose a horizontal milling machine. If you need versatility, choose a vertical milling machine that can accomplish virtually any work as long as you do not mind the geometry.

Why should size matter in Trak milling machines?

A cramped workspace might tempt you to purchase an affordable small desktop milling machine. This works so long as you do not need to mill metal. They cannot handle the force required, so this is why you need to consider what size you need beforehand. Full-sized machines have a heavy, rigid frame that suits precision machining.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by TRAK Machine Tools.