A lathe machine is a commonly used machine that works through removing the undesired material from a rotating workpiece with a cutting tool that is fed against the work either crosswise or longitudinally to give its desired shape and size. This is also known as the “mother of all machines” and due to its versatility, it can be used in a large variety of operations such as turning, tapered turning, shoulder turning, facing, thread cutting, parting, chamfering, knurling, drilling, boring, counter boring, countersinking, and reaming operation.
Probably the oldest machine tool known to mankind, the first lathe invented worked with one person turning the wood workpiece using rope and the other person shaping the workpiece through a sharp tool, now called as a two-person lathe. The ancient Romans improved this design by adding the turning bow, and the development went on to the industrial revolution when steam engines and water wheels were attached to the lathe to make the turning easier and faster. This paved way for metalworking and heavier machines with thicker and more rigid parts. Then in the 1950s, the servo mechanism was added to be able to control the lathe machine and it became the easiest lathe machine to operate until a British engineer named Henry Maudslay invented the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) lathe which is the most advanced form of lathe machine.
The basic parts of a lathe machine are the bed, headstock, tail stock, carriage, saddle, cross slide, compound rest, tool post, apron, chuck, feed rod, lead screw, spindle, and leg. Its main purpose is shaping a product through removing the unwanted material in a rotating workpiece and a fixed cutting tool. With this, various products such as nuts, bolts, piston, pump part, ram, gun barrels, candlesticks, train parts, cue sticks, wooden bowls, baseball bat, crankshaft, etc. can be made.
Some of the advantages in using a lathe machine are:
- High Productivity – The industries that are using lathe machines can be sure that these produce high quality products with top-notch accuracy, especially the CNC lathe machines. As a result, the productivity will increase.
- High Speed – The machining in the lathe can produce many products in a lesser time, especially with the use of CNC lathe and automatic lathe, because of its high-speed production.
- Saves Time and Money – Due to the advantages mentioned above, using a lathe machine saves a lot of time. Aside from this, it also saves money because there is no need to have many operators or turners which will result to lesser machining and labor cost.
Some of the disadvantages in using a lathe machine are:
- Highly-skilled Operators/Turners – Although it only requires a few turners to operate the lathe machine, there is a need for them to be highly-skilled because they have to control the machine precisely and make sure it is given constant supervision. The preciseness of the job depends highly on the skills of the turners/operators.
- Cost and Weight of the Machine – The initial cost of a lathe machine is high. It actually depends on the purpose and how big the production is but most lathe machines used in big companies cost up to $50,000. It also takes up a lot of space because it is a huge machine and sometimes, it requires extra fittings and attachments which makes it bigger and more expensive. The use of CNC lathe machine is also not advisable for small production.
- Constant Maintenance – A lathe machine needs a proper and constant maintenance, in each of its important parts. Otherwise, this may damage some parts or the whole machine.
- Limited Structures and Shapes – Lathe machines work best with cylindrical shapes, however, there are limited shapes and structures that can be done with it. Also, only one tool can be used generally at a time.
In using a lathe machine, one should make sure that it is suitable for their production needs to maximize its capabilities. If you’re interested in purchasing a lathe machine, browse our extensive inventory of used vertical lathe machines and used horizontal lathes. Contact us at Tramar Industries and we’ll help you find the right machine for the job.