What is a CNC Turning Lathe?
A CNC Turning Lathe is a Computer Controlled piece of machinery. It allows basic machining operations such as turning and drilling to be carried out as on a conventional lathe. The bonus of the CNC function is that a g-code program can be written allowing the computer to carry out the work. This allows the programmer/operator to operate many machines instead of just one improving efficiency. Another bonus of CNC is that it allows unmanned production of components during night time hours.
These types of machines have been available since the 1980’s and have now progressed to allow manufacture of complex parts. Machining operations such as milling and thread milling are now achievable. Live tooling has allowed for machining of detailed internal and external features. Modern CNC Turning Lathes now operate in many different axis. The main ones are X-axis, Z-axis and a C-axis. Optional axis such as Y-axis and B-axis can be added at additional cost. These axis allow extra machining capability of detailed features.
Types of CNC Turning Lathe
There are two main types of CNC Turning Lathes. They are sliding head and fixed head. The main difference between the two machines is as follows:
Sliding Head CNC Turning Machine – This machine works by sliding the material stock towards the cutting tool allowing great rigidity. The material is clamped by a collet and then supported by a carbide guide bush close to the tool. These machines are ideal for the manufacture of close tolerance and long components.
Fixed Head CNC Machine – This type of machine features a turret mounted on guideways which moves towards the bar stock. The bar stock is fed out to a desired length and the turret moves towards it with the cutting tool. The fixed head machine is ideal for parts that require heavy machining due to machine rigidity. They are not as accurate as a sliding head machine at holding tolerance. They are suitable for manufacture of short length parts.