If you are stepping your toe into the vast sea of CNC machines and have decided to go for lathe then there are a lot of things to know. Firstly, what are some of the main advantages you can get with a CNC lathe machine instead of a manual one?
Secondly, knowing the main types of CNC lathe machining and how to choose the right one will save you a world of pain. So if you’re ready to know every important detail about selecting and buying CNC lathe machines, read on.
Benefits of Using CNC Lathe Machining:
- Fully Automated: Since CNC operates on computer language, you don’t need a human telling it what to do by moving its spindles around. You can produce hundreds or even thousands of similar dimensions with just one design. Once the design made from CAD software is put inside the machine, you don’t need to supervise it, the machine will keep producing the same design.
- Versatility: The automated CNC machines are very versatile, they can produce almost any type of part or product, from furniture pieces to auto parts to delicate crockery and delicate lamps, everything can be made using them right inside your CNC lathe shop.
- Excellent Accuracy: When manual labor is involved, there is a chance of them not producing the same thing every single time – the accuracy will suffer a little. This is not the problem with the CNC lathe. There is 2 to 9 axis in CNC lathe machines that you can use to carve out the same designs everything Just programs its machine to do what you want and it’ll do just that.
- High Cost Efficiency: Although the setup cost can be a little high than its manual counterpart, it’s a one-time expense. After that, you will save money on hiring labor to manage it because it’s mostly automated. Plus, by producing parts with 20x efficiency, you’ll recoup the investment pretty quickly.
CNC Lathe Types:
There are mainly two types of these machines, whether it’s a CNC metal lathe or any other material-based. The first one is vertical where the workpiece rotates in more of an upright position just like the movement of a pottery wheel. This allows the spindle to reach and cut unreachable positions and angles. This kind of machine is used on bulky and heavy materials that are so big that cranes are used to load them.
The horizontal ones are the typical CNC lathe shop machines as they’re commonly found in workshops. They rotate the workpiece cylindrically and while it rotates, the machine operates on it using different tools to give it desired (programmed) shape and design. The chuck in these holds materials vertically and these machines are typically needed for lighter workpieces.
Choosing the Right Machine for Your CNC Lathe Shop:
The weight plays an integral part in your hunt for a CNC lathe machine because if it is on the heavier side, it means it will bear the rigorous bumps and vibrations produced during the production.
A lightweight machine will have higher chances of breaking down and it can also quickly get out of balance impacting your output. Look for the machine made of cast iron, they are very durable.
Bed & Swing Measurement:
A machine’s swing measurement is the max diameter amount of material that can be designed or cut on the lathe. The measurement starts from the machine’s bed to the center of its spindle. The measurement of the bed is the max length a workpiece can have to be used in a lathe machine.
Know the type of parts and materials you’ll be designing and producing and get the bed and swing size accordingly.
Types of Stand Storage:
The base of the whole CNC lathe machine is its stand. If you are searching for a table-top kind of lathe then you don’t need to pay attention to the stand but if you’ll be working on bigger projects, you’ll have to be extremely careful regarding the stand’s design.
Since the lathe machine experiences a lot of disturbances and vibrations when working on a material (metal especially), it should have a stand that can absorb these shocks. Having a tool storage box in the lathe machine will also help as you can add some weight inside it to stabilize the machine.
Bed & Headstock:
Any CNC lathe machine usually has a bed that’s made from cast iron and is connected with the headstock in such a way that the tailstock and tool carriage work side by side with the spindle’s axis. When you’re getting a machine, whether a CNC metal lathe or any other for your CNC lathe shop, ensure the bed has high durability because most of the operations will rely on it.
Next, make sure the headstock of your CNC lathe is made from cast iron, which will give more rigidity to the whole machine. Also, the headstock spindle is one of the main parts of the headstock that rotates the piece so we can call it the heart of the entire operation. Make sure to pay close attention when choosing a spindle.
Drive & Motor:
Depending on the kind of lathe motor you get for your machine, the final output will be either too good, average, or poor. If you are just stepping foot into the world of lathes, pay close attention to its motor.
If you have a small operation, you can select the motor having as low as 1/3 horsepower. Do not compromise on the quality of your lathe machine’s motor otherwise, it can quickly break down, making you spend money on repairs or replacement.
There’s no doubt CNC lathe shop can do wonders when it comes to pumping out batches of the same design without much supervision. However, it is also an expensive machine and if you make even a small mistake in getting things right, you can end up losing some money.
So make sure to first assess your needs, the kind of materials you’ll be working with, and the type of products you’ll be making, and then select the machine accordingly.