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What is a CNC Lathe?
Similar to a CNC milling machine, a CNC lathe uses a computer numerical control for CNC machining. However, unlike the CNC mill, it works by moving the workpiece rather than moving the machine around it. Because it spins the workpiece on an axis, it works very well for parts that have a round profile, though they may vary in diameter along the length of the part. It can be a very important part of your manufacturing process when you need to create round parts at high speed, which is why it’s an important machine tool in the manufacturing industry. It also has a wide range of industrial applications, with modern machines using complex CNC programming, typically in G code but also in some proprietary programming languages, to work virtually autonomously in some cases.
These CNC turning lathes consist of a heavy-duty main spindle, often with an adjustable spindle speed to allow cutting of different materials in optimal conditions. Though most machines are a horizontal lathe, with a horizontal machining center and cutting tool, the CNC lathe has complex parts that can be set up in many configurations, providing versatility in finding the exact lathe you need for your business or shop. The work typically takes place along the Z axis, with the milling tool moving along the cross slide and changing depth along the X axis to remove material from the round or cylindrical workpiece.
What Kind of Features Should I Look for in a CNC Lathe?
As time has progressed, more features have become available to CNC lathe technology. From the addition of a servo motor in the 1950s to sub spindles and stepper motors, the technology has continuously advanced to the point that many high-end CNC lathes operate nearly independently of a human operator once set up for production. Though they essentially produce round objects, that doesn’t mean that CNC lathes are not capable of producing complex parts.
There are many features to consider when purchasing a CNC lathe. It could have live tooling control, a two-axis stepper motor, variable speed settings, a tool post that can accept multiple tools and be changed out quickly, a collet chuck, a spindle nose capable of holding any end-tooling live centers, drill chucks or collet assemblies you need, a parts catcher, a bar feeder for automatically loading turning stock, a tool presenter for measuring tool geometry offsets for the X and Z axis and a bar capacity to be able to handle the size of stock that you’re considering working with.
If you’re considering investing in a CNC machine, the exceptional variety available through our website is certain to have what you’re looking for. To take advantage of the best features available, a used CNC lathe may provide you with options that would otherwise be out of range on a new machine. Take a few minutes to check out our available machines, whether you’re looking for a used CNC lathe machine or a manual lathe.