Before showing you how does a CNC lathe works, you should know what this type of industrial machine is.

CNC lathes are fully automated machines controlled by computer numerical control software. One of the main advantages is that they can perform different tasks and easily position the X, Y or Z axes. Thanks to these axes, the machine can easily move over the component according to its geometry (spherical, conical, square, etc.).

It can also work with complex parts and various materials. With this type of machinery, it is possible to drill, turn, mill, cut and other industrial sector tasks. This makes it easier to increase the volume of manufactured parts with greater precision.

So, How does a CNC lathe machine work? Take note of everything!

What is a CNC Lathe and How Does it Work?

Now that we know what a CNC lathe is, the next step is to discover some of its main parts. In this case we are talking about a basic CNC lathe.

  • Main Spindle: The main spindle consists of a spindle assembly and the spindle drive system. These are some of the moving parts of the CNC machine tool, and they include motors, gears, and the chuck. In addition, the C-axis drive which helps to position the material will also be assembled with the spindle.
  • Guide Way: It enables the tool to move horizontally and vertically to achieve a smooth cutting process.
  • Chuck: A chuck is a structure that holds the parts to be machined. It is attached to the main spindle that rotates both the chuck and the workpiece.
  • Headstock: Comprising the main motor, the headstock holds the main spindle where the chuck is mounted on.

Regarding the operation of a CNC lathe, the most relevant part of the operation is:

The CNC machine controller receives instructions from the computer and, using its own software, converts the instructions into electrical signals to activate the motors which, in turn, will start the drive system.

How to use CNC Lathe?

A CNC lathe machine is normally used to produce precise round shapes with both an Outer Diameter (OD), and an Inner Diameter (ID). Practically all kinds of structures could be machined with this machine tool, depending on their needs in different industries.

This kind of machines are commonly used in industries such as aerospace, electronics, oil & gas, automotive, medical, etc.

Still not sure? The advantages of use CNC lathes are:

  • They increase machining accuracy.
  • They give the opportunity to machine parts with more complexity.
  • It allows switching from one part to another.
  • As it is an automated process, it reduces possible human errors.
  • As technology advances, the manufacturing processes of this type of lathe reduce costs.
  • Machining times are reduced.

Steps for a proper CNC Lathe Program

Although the use of CNC machines has become widespread over the years, there is a shortage of qualified personnel to operate these machines. The reason is simple, specialized studies and training are required to be able to use the CNC program.

However, when the operator does not know how to write the CNC program or the application is very complex, a CAM program can be used. In many cases, the CAM program works in combination with computer-aided design (CAD). This eliminates the need to redefine the workpiece setup for the CAM program. In addition, it is easier to use; the worker must specify the machining operations to be performed and the CAM program will automatically create the CNC program.

So, there are different ways to program a CNC lathe:

  • Directly on the machine, using a modern CNC Programming Support System.
  • Off-line using a CAD/ CAM system.

In most cases, the CNC lathes should be able to process one CNC programme while the next CNC programme is being established and programmed. This helps to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process and saving time.

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