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What is a CNC Lathe?

CNC Lathes

What is a CNC Lathe?

A lathe is a machine tool that rotates a workpiece about an axis of rotation to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, deformation, facing, and turning.

Lathe machines are typically used for shaping the material into the desired form by removing the excess material from a given workpiece to produce a symmetrical object. The workpiece is usually held in place by either one or two centers, at least one of which can typically be moved horizontally to accommodate varying workpiece lengths. Other work-holding methods include clamping the work about the axis of rotation using a chuck or collet, or to a faceplate, using clamps or dog clutch.

Main Parts of a CNC Lathe Machine

  • Bed: Almost all lathes have a bed, which is almost always a horizontal beam. Although CNC lathes commonly have an inclined or vertical beam for a bed to ensure that swarf, or chips, fall from the bed. As the name suggests, the bed of a lathe serves as the base of the whole machine where the different components are mounted.

    While single-bed lathe machines are quite popular, lathe also get two-three pieced beds, pieces bolted together to meet the desired length. The beds have a high damping capacity to absorb the vibrations produced by the working machine.
  • Carriage: Used for mounting and moving the cutting tools, a carriage moves the tool horizontally and vertically on the bed for a smooth cutting process. It carries an apron, saddle, compound rest, cross slide and tool post.
  • Chuck: A chuck is responsible for holding the workpiece. This component is attached to the spindle that rotates both the chuck and workpiece. It rotates with the spindle and also rotates the work piece. In the lathe machine we generally use three jaw or four jaw check.
  • CNC Control Panel: The storage center of the machine, CNC control panel stores all the CNC programs and instructions. The CNC expert operates the machine by controlling the keys on the panel, instructing the machine to produce the desired results.
  • Headstock: This part functions as a holding device for the other components of the lathe like gear chain, spindle, driving pulley and more. The headstock is made up of cast iron and is present at the left hand side of the lathe.
  • Main Spindle: The main feeding center of the machine. A stock is fed via the headstock.
  • Main Drive Motor: The drive motor helps rotate the chuck, thus driving the entire machine.
  • Tailstock: A tailstock is usually used to conduct drilling operations and is used to provide support to the workpiece.
  • Tool Turret: A tool turret is used a tool carrier for the machine. The shape and the size of the turret are determined by the number of tools that’ll be mounted on them.
  • Horizontal vs Vertical Lathes

    CNC Lathes come in either vertical or horizontal machines.

    Horizontal Lathes – These machines rotate a workpiece cylindrically, while tooling shapes the piece by cutting away excess material. Since workpieces have to lie vertically, horizontal lathe machines tend to have a larger footprint or take up more total space. Because of this, horizontal lathes are best reserved for use on smaller or midsize workpieces. Workpieces are also usually lighter materials, since the chuck on these machines hold the piece vertically against the gravitational pull of the object.

    Vertical Lathes – In comparison to horizontal lathes, vertical lathes rotate the workpiece upright like a pottery wheel, allowing the spindle to cut at hard to reach angles. This makes it ideal for manufacturing super large and heavy workpieces because vertical lathes have a naturally smaller footprint than horizontal lathes. The smaller footprints also allow for the option of dual-spindles to work on a piece without compromising floor space, and makes them a good choice for pinch turning operations. Gravity also works in favor of vertical lathes, which allows for steady spindle movements and more accurate cutting.

    Like other CNC machines, CNC lathes have become a major part of the manufacturing industry in recent years. So, it is expected that the operations of such machines will continue to improve and carry significant weight in this field.

    If you’re interested in buying a CNC machine please look through our inventory, or contact us today and we’ll guarantee that we can help you find the right machine that’s perfect for your application. If you’re looking to get rid of any type of used CNC machine like vertical or horizontal lathes, sell us your machine today!

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