Lathe happens to be the oldest technology dating back to thousands of years ago. The cool thing is that due to technological advancements, it has led to better approaches. To date, lathe technology is under constant usage to create several items as simple as utensils.
Furthermore, the lathe technology can create huge machine components. So, what is the lathe? Lathe are machines that operate to shape materials with the help of a rotating drive.
Computer Numerical Machine (CNC) is an electro-mechanical device that automates, controls, and monitors the movements of the tool through a computer program. They are advanced machines that use a digital software file to manage related components.
You can only compare such devices to 3D printers. The first CNC machine emerged in 1940, and many industries have been using them for manufacturing items.
How a CNC Machine Works
A CNC machine has onboard controllers. These controllers will automatically execute programmed motions. The computer controllers will send signals to drive components. As a result, it will regulate the action s of the machine’s axes.
There is a feedback system that checks the speed and position for any adjustments if need be. The CNC machines have digital instructional data that manages motions and adjustments. The data that these machines use can come from two sources, namely:
- Computer-Aided Designs (CAD)
- Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
When you program the computer to manage shop activity, it will enhance productivity. You can efficiently operate the CNC machine by the below steps:
- Check the tool to determine working faults. You can attach the cylindrical workpiece to the chuck. Remember, its position varies as per the requirement.
- Proceed by setting the spindle on the correct speed, which will rotate the workpiece and the chuck. You should focus all your attention on the speed of the spindle since any discrepancy may result in cutting errors. It is vital to check the workpiece to determine if it is operating correctly.
- Move the carriage and the tool turret to locate the cutting tool to the desired feed. Focus your attention on the feeding speed.
- Remove all the metal excesses as you move the carriage to have your finished product.
Parts of a CNC Lathe Machine
Well, we use a lathe machine to shape the material into the form of your choice. The machine will get rid of unwanted materials from a particular workpiece. One can also use a lathe machine to perform the following processes:
- Metal spinning
- Thermal spraying
The following are the main parts of a lathe machine:
The bed is the base of the entire tool, where we mount all the components. Typically, the base should be rigid to withstand any pressure. Specifically, the bed comes from steel scrap and toughened cast iron. Such a design will enhance the sliding action easily.
The most popular lathe machines feature a single bed. Other categories feature double or triple beds that work in combination to restore the desired bed. The bed will absorb vibrations since they have high damping capacity.
The role of a chuck is to hold the workpiece. You have to attach to the spindle, which will rotate the workpiece and the chuck.
It is a component that mounts and moves cutting tools. It will move the tool both vertically and horizontally on the bed for convenient cutting.
It is a holding device for particular components like spindle, driving pulley, gear chain, and more.
- CNC Control Panel
It acts as the brain of the CNC machine. The control panel stores all the instructions and CNC programs. The operator will press different keys on the panel to get the desired output.
- Main Spindle
It is the feeding center of the machine whereby you feed the stock through the headstock.
The components support the machine by conducting drilling operations.
- Main Drive Motor
Its primary role is to rotate the chuck; hence it drives the entire machine.
- Tool Turret
It is a component of the CNC machine that carries particular tools. Its shape and size will determine the number of tools it can carry.
Types of the CNC Lathe Machines
A Lathe machine can come in different samples to produce varying results. The following are major types of lathe machines in the market.
1. Engine Lathes
It is a popular machine that is ideal for low power operations. But that is not all. You can also use this type of device for high-power services. It is a versatile and reliable machine that operates in different feed ratios and speed.
The design of this machine is suitable for those manufacturers that want a particular tool that is useful for all metal types.
2. Speed Lathes
A speed lathe is a straightforward machine that features a tool turret, tailstock, and headstock. It is suitable if you have a light machine work. One can only operate on either three or four-speed.
3. Center Lathes
For this type of a lathe, one can manage the spindle speed through a set of gears controlled by a lever.
4. Turret Lathes
You can use the turret machine for sequential workings. Also, use the tool holder to perform different operations on every workpiece.
5. Gap Bed Lathe
It is a lathe machine that has a removable bed section. As a result, it accommodates a larger workpiece. The detachable part is just next to the headstock.
6. Special Purpose Lathes
Such machines play a critical role in the production of identical heavy-duty parts. Examples of such apparatus include:
- Crankshaft lathes
- Multi-Spindle lathes
- Automatic Lathes
- Duplicating lathes
- Bench-type jewelers’ lathes
7. Tool Room Lathes
You can use this machine to provide the best finishing. The tool is generally versatile as it works on different feeds and speeds.
Different Processes in Metal CNC Machining
Several processes come with metal machining.They include:
It is a process that involves rotational parts to eliminate excess material with the help of a lathe machine. The operator will place the workpiece to the lathe that rotates at high speeds. The lathe machine secures a cutting tool for better results.
During the manufacturing process, many multi-point tools come into use. You will begin by feeding the cutter into that particular rotating workpiece. Consequently, it will remove the unwanted materials to reach a desired shape and design.
Some of the raw materials used to turn the machines are magnesium, nickel, aluminum, steel, and thermostat plastics. While choosing a particular metal, it is essential to consider the following elements:
- Resistance to wear
A suitable material should restore a great surface finish. You should also experience accessible chip collection. As you turn any metal, you can get different features of the metal. They are as listed below:
- Contoured surfaces
Examples of the products that emerge as a result of turning include custom-designed shafts and fasteners.
You can use a milling method to create parts that are not axially symmetrical. They may be holes, pockets, slots, and three-dimensional surface contours. Some of the products that come as a result of milling are custom-designed fasteners and brackets.
Moreover, you can fabricate metal tools and three-dimensional molds. Materials used to design cutters for milling are high-speed steel, carbide, and carbon steel. The stuff that supports any milling will largely depend on the type of workpiece.
Some of the properties of an excellent cutter are:
- Resistance to wear
Reaming is a metal machining process. It uses a multi-edged cutting tool. The tool can smoothen, enlarge, or accurately size any existing hole. The reamer is a rotary cutting tool that facilitates a reaming process.
As the reaming process goes on, the grinding wheel speed will be higher than the machining process. Reamers come from the following materials:
- High-speed steel
You can use either material depending on the cutting application.
Honing is an abrasive machining process that will smoothen the surface of the workpiece with precision. You use the abrasive stone to scrub it in a controlled path. Overall, it will improve the surface texture and form.
During the honing process, there is a rotating tool that has abrasives that eliminate unwanted materials from the surface. Honing is a process that is suitable for metal finishing.
It is an abrasive metal machining. In this case, the cutting tool will be the grinding wheel. There are multiple tools meant for grinding. They are grindstones, hand-cranked knife sharpening, and grinders.
The grinding process will make use of abrasive particles in cutting metal or other materials. The grinding wheel speed is higher than the rest of the machining process, like milling. The entire process involves mixing the bond materials and coarse sawdust for better results.
It is a modern machining process that enlarges a drilled hole or already cast iron. The CNC machines have various boring circles that one can apply as per requirement. The following re examples of boring methods:
- Line Boring: The process involves using a boring bar with support from both ends.
- Lathe Boring: It uses a special tool to enlarge an existing hole on your workpiece. One can either make a square or tapered holes.
- Back Boring: As you access the hole, you will bore the back part of the workpiece.
The broaching method uses a toothed tool and a broach to remove material. The most common broaching methods are linear and rotary.
While using a linear process, the process involves running a broach linearly on the surface of the workpiece. On the other hand, a rotary method uses a lathe machine or a screw.
Shaping involves some complex processes like hot forging on a malleable metal part. You can get the desired shape if the ideal temperature of the workpiece rises to at least 75% of the melting heat.
9. Laser engraving
The process involves creating labels on the metal parts with precision. The process does not include chemicals bit only non-contact laser technology. Some of the benefits of laser engraving are:
- Permanent marking
- You can engrave variable data
- The method is flexible with several materials
- Fast cycle times
- Cost-efficient product.
Benefits of CNC Machining
- Tough and Reliable
The CNC machines are reliable since they operate the all-round clock. You can only stop them should you require maintenance or repair.
- Precisely Done Metal Components
By digitizing the machining process, you will be eliminating human error. You can program the CNC machine to produce the desired output. Also, one can use them to manipulate the shape, hole diameter, size, and other related features.
- Quality Product
As you put the CMC Machine to use, you will produce high-quality products. On the contrary, if you use other conventional methods, the output of a particular product may occasionally differ. As you put precise specifications and prototypes, the CNC machines will produce exact specifications with precision.
- High Production and Scalability
As you set your parameters right, the CNC machine will produce huge quantities of the same. The tool will produce high-end products with the required specifications.
- Less Manual Labor
The programmed CNC machines will automatically manufacture the high-end products. Such will eliminate the need to hire manual laborers that will have to do the same job. You will only need a single programmer to load the machine with the required specifications.
Still, a single skilled person can comfortably run multiple CNC machines. At this point, you will save your cash on human resources and reduce the cost of the product. Such a design will be beneficial to your business.
If you are operating convectional machines, the risk of getting injuries and accidents is high. The main reason is that you work while on a closer distance to the working machine. Some fatal accidents are common in such arrangements.
While using CNC machines, you are at a considerable distance that is safe for any sharp objects. As you embrace CNC machines, you will reduce the chances of facing legal consequences should you have any casualties.
The machines provide a better working environment.
- Reduced costs of production
The CNC machines will lower the production costs. They handle large orders within a short period since they operate at high speed. They are also precise with high efficiency. Beyond that, you will save more money to facilitate your enterprise to grow.
The installed software will require low maintenance due to automatic updates. As a result, the CNC machine may not require much service. You can also perform some light cleaning. One will not have to hire a professional to perform maintenance.
- Design Retention
The CNC machine will enhance design retention. The only responsibility is to create a design within the CNC software. In the end, the device will produce precisely the same designs. You can also retrieve the program since it will automatically get saved on the CNC data.
Furthermore, you will encounter fewer problems. Firstly, the user will not face common human challenges like injuries, absenteeism, and tardiness. It will also reduce the concerns of incompetent personnel.
Versatility defines the CNC machines. One can mold and create any metal using these machines. The tools have unique features that will enhance the production of different types of end products.
CNC Lathe Machines for Plastics
You can also make the plastic material into usable form with the help of CNC lathe Machines. As you set the commands, the CNC machine will produce your desired product. There are different types of these machines that perform a unique function. They are:
- CNC Lathes
If you want to provide a plastic cylindrical part, then make use of a CNC lathe machine. They will allow you to create curved surfaces that are difficult to achieve when using a manual lathe.
The process of production will involve spinning the material within the lathe. There is a tool that moves in two axes to bring a desired shape.
- CNC Mills
If you want to create a flat part, then CNC mills are the right equipment to use. It holds a plastic material at a single point. The spindle will rotate to create the programmed shape. It is a simple and automated way of creating desired shapes.
- CNC Drills
The device works on a similar principle as the CNC mills. The remarkable difference is that the drills will cut only on a single axis. The drill will act by moving down the Z-axis.
- CNC Grinders
The grinders are useful in creating high-quality surface finishes. They will move a grinding wheel on the plastic surface. It is noteworthy that these machines are practical on hardened plastics only.
Is Plastic Machining Different?
It is vital to take into account that plastic parts do not require any special machines. The same machines can work on both metal and plastic materials. You must look for crucial elements when doing plastic machining.
The challenging part is finding a suitable machine if you lack experience with CNC machining. Also, there are different types of composition in plastics. Each material will respond differently to the machining process.
There is a particular category of plastics with carbide particle reinforcement. Surprisingly, the drilling and milling tools used for plastic and metal are similar. The machining tools meant for metals have wider angles to create them with higher resistance.
As for plastic cutting tools, they feature sharper angles. Such a design may not work well on metals.
Here are some few factors that you can consider while milling plastics:
- The clamping should be tension-free to reduce distortion.
- Use a sharp cutting tool.
- Directly use the coolant to avoid any rupture.
Types of Plastics
Most industries use PVC applications. It is cost-effective, reliable, and durable. Despite the said strength, this material happens to be lightweight. Most of the constructions covet this material. Furthermore, the material is safe. The cool thing about PVC material is that it is highly affordable.
You can use the nylon material to make various designs. They can be insulators, bearings, and certain products for injection molding. The unique benefit of nylon material is that it is easy to machine.
Nylon has low friction properties. You can use it in certain parts that are prone to frequent wearing. Also, you can use this material to make toys. The automotive industry uses nylon to create specific parts like a door handle and radiator grills.
3. PEEK Plastic
The acronym stands for polyether ether ketone. It is a high-performing engineering material. It can highly resist harsh chemicals. You can use it for various machine parts that are prone to exposure to harsh chemicals.
Disadvantages of CNC Lathe machines
- As compared to conventional tools, CNC machines are more costly. The good news is that their prices are gradually going down.
- For one to operate CNC machines, the user will only require the basic skills which he will use in the operation of other machines. The engineers who took years of training to operate other manually oriented machines will become irrelevant. The old skills will become null and void.
- As you implement the CNC machines, it creates unemployment. The main reason for such a scenario is that they require less workforce.
- It is challenging to control the machining process. Maintenance of the machines will require more technical skills.
We live in a tech-savvy society. Since the world is advancing in new technological developments, you will have to adapt them to remain relevant. You will not survive the heat of competition that will knock you hard if you fail to implement new changes.
CNC lathe Machine is a superior machine that will achieve various engineering processes. They will require less workforce. Fortunately, the CNC machines produce high-quality products with precision.
The machines are highly efficient hence that one should them acquire to facilitate high returns. They process large orders within a short period. As compared to their manual counterpart, we highly recommend them if you want to increase your income.
It is high time that you considered a change. If you are still operating manual machines, you can rethink your decision and acquire the CNC machines instead.