Everything you need to know CNC lathe – Ultimate Guide
For those new to the industry, the variety, size and specialities of CNC (computer numerical control) machines used in manufacturing can be mind-boggling — from lathes, milling and multi-axis machines to other machine tools.
To help you better understand what each tool is used for and how to use them, we are starting a new series on CNC machine tools basics.
In this article, we will focus on CNC lathes, including the following:
— Definition of CNC lathe
— CNC lathe parts
Use of CNC lathes
Programming CNC lathe
– Type of CNC lathe
— The price of CNC lathes
– Example of CNC lathe
Lathes are considered the mainstay of manufacturing and have been in existence since the 19th century. Unlike their predecessors, today’s CNC lathes are more complex and automated.
They power factories around the world for a wide range of applications.
What is a CNC lathe? First, CNC stands for computer numerical control, which is a machine operated by a computer system. CNC lathes operate according to precise design instructions to process parts to exact specifications. A CNC lathe is a machine tool in which a material or part is held in place and rotated by the spindle because the cutting tool working on the material is mounted on and moves on the various axes. A simple CNC lathe runs on two axes with the cutting tools in fixed positions on the tool towers at 8 to 24 stations. The rotating action of the workpiece is called turning. This is why certain types of CNC lathes are called CNC lathes. CNC lathes can produce accurate circles with OD and ID. According to the needs of different industries, the machine can process a variety of different types of structures. They are commonly used in the oil and gas, automotive, aerospace, medical, electronics, mining, power plants, steel and paper mills, and shipbuilding industries.
A CNC lathe, operated using a computer numerical control (CNC) system and providing precise design instructions, is a machine tool in which materials or parts are clamped and rotated by a spindle, while the cutting tool for processing the material installs and moves various axles.
CNC lathes are typically used for machining parts where the material/part is clamped and rotated, while cutting tools are fixed mounted for OD (outside diameter) and ID (inside diameter) operations, such as shafts and pipes. They are ideal for parts that have the same symmetry around an axis that can be clamped in the spindle (i.e., radial clamped).
A simple CNC lathe runs on axis 2 with the cutting tools in fixed positions on the tool towers at stations 8 to 24. The rotary action of parts is called “turning”, so certain types of CNC lathes are called CNC lathes.
Milling (where the tool moves around a fixed workpiece), boring, and tapping (a tool that cuts threads in a hole) the tool is usually driven by a separate drive system in the turret. Depending on the application, the life tool (i.e. active tool) is mounted for axial or radial operation. These can be found in 3-axis CNC lathes or CNC lathes.
Lathes with additional options (such as y-axes, auxiliary spindles, or specially selected automation options) are often called turning centers. These sophisticated machines are capable of machining complex parts — these go beyond standard OD and OD turning operations, and can combine milling, drilling, and tapping operations to complete parts in one setting. From raw material to finished product, this all-in-one machine tool significantly improves productivity.
Types of CNC lathes
CNC lathes are classified by number of shafts. They have different shafts and can produce more complex parts without having to manually switch machines or tools. Different axes affect the positioning, rotation and proximity of machined parts or tools during machining.
This basic CNC lathe has two linear axes and can perform OD/ID, basically cylindrical and end machining, or drilling and tapping in the center of a part. It has an X and Z axis and does not allow milling.
Three axis CNC lathe
Using a 3-axis CNC lathe, the addition of a C-axis and Life Tool system allows parts to be positioned to perform standard milling operations, boring and tapping operations. Spiral milling operations that require slow synchronous rotation of the workpiece are possible.
Four axis CNC lathe
The 4-axis machine tool has a Y-axis added so it can perform eccentric machining operations. The fourth axis is suitable for more irregular and complex lathes.
Five-axis CNC lathe
In the 5-axis lathe, a second cutter tower was added to the 3-axis CNC lathe. Such a machine would have two axes at each upper and lower turret, plus a C-axis on the rotating spindle. This allows two tools to be used on the part at the same time, thus greatly increasing machining speed.
More than 6 axis CNC lathe
For more than five axes, the arrangement may include the following: two C-axes, main axis and second axis; Two turrets, one up and down, each with two straight spindles; The upper turret has a Y-axis; The second spindle can move towards the spindle to pick up parts. There are even machines with more than eight axes. However, 8-axis lathes are highly sophisticated and complex machines that usually do not require daily manufacturing requirements.