Understanding the Advantages of Using a Lathe Machine
For current and prospective CNC machinists, a lathe machine is one of the most critical tools to completing a nearly endless number of possible projects. The lathe is one of the most dynamic and practical devices, and it’s essential to understand the advantages it has to offer when machining. Even if you’re a seasoned pro when it comes to using your lathe machine, there may be some benefits you might not even be aware of that could be incredibly useful. We've created a guide below to understanding the advantages of using a lathe machine helpful for both beginners and career professionals.
What Is a Lathe?
Before diving into the different advantages a lathe machine has to offer, it is crucial to define what it is and the distinct advantages the two most common lathes have over each other. A lathe is a machine that spins a workpiece around a rotational axis to conduct different operations, such as cutting, facing, chamfering, drilling, distortion, turning, and sanding by using tools to make an item symmetrical around the axis.
Once your operation is complete, remove unwanted parts of the materials and transform your workpiece. You primarily use a lathe for shaping either metal or wood workpieces, and both types of operations have a slight difference in the lathe application.
A wood lathe is intended explicitly for woodworking. That means a wood lathe's primary functions are cutting, sanding, drilling, facing, turning, and deforming wooden parts and pieces. Like other lathes, they still operate by introducing a revolving workpiece to an unmoving cutting tool. However, it would be best not to use wood lathes on workpieces composed of more rigid materials—such as metal—because of their intentional woodworking design.
The woodworking lathes are also more compact and less complicated than metal lathes. A simple pulley system regulates the pace at which they spin workpieces. Wood lathes are very effective in shaping wooden workpieces, despite not having as much power as metal lathes.
By contrast, a metal lathe can perform different applications of metalworking. Metal lathes are highly durable and incredibly powerful because they’re more challenging than wooden workpieces. They can effectively handle and distort workpieces consisting of steel, iron, aluminum, and other common metals.
Metal lathes come with a robust cutting tool attached to a spinning mounting surface. After positioning the metal workpiece on the lathe, press the reinforced cutting tool against it. Metal lathes can also be used on most woodworking pieces. However, wood lathes tend to be smaller and cost less, making them ideal for budget-conscious CNC machinists who work primarily with wood pieces.
Advantages When Using Lathe Machines
Using a lathe in machining offers many distinct advantages when working on a project. Whether it’s your job or simply a hobby, you will undoubtedly find these advantages helpful in whatever work you do.
Lower Turnaround Time
If you work in or run a commercial CNC shop, it can be imperative to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. Lathes help to significantly reduce the time it takes to complete various projects. Without lathes, you’d have to accomplish many different tasks across several other devices and tools. Instead, you can complete those tasks using just a lathe, which makes the turnaround time way faster.
Precision for lathes can vary between the different types, but in general, they offer a high degree of accuracy when machining on workpieces. Typical lathes operate to within one ten-thousandth of an inch. If you want very intricate parts or components with CNC lathes, the programmed computer uses automated machining processes to ensure the result is flawless.
Most modern CNC lathe machines have digital tools embedded in them that make the machining process much easier and require fewer people to operate on them. The lathe works with modern tools, and once you start, they may run for an extended period with only the occasional supervision of an operator. A CNC lathe is operated electronically via a computer menu interface. The relevant software and a virtual representation of the process are shown on the machine through a display. Furthermore, the user can alter the software as needed. The same person usually sets and operates these lathes, and the operator may easily manage several machines simultaneously.
Lathes are a very dynamic and robust tool in your machining arsenal. No matter what type of job you need to perform, there’s almost always a tool attached to the lathe to complete the task. CNC lathe tool holders can help quickly swap out these different tools to make machining even more systematized.
Here are just some examples of various operations you can do using instruments on a lathe machine.
A facing tool is used on the lathe to cut flat surfaces perpendicular to the piece's rotating axis. You install a tool into a tool holder that sits on the lathe carriage, and the facing tool feeds perpendicularly across the part's rotational axis during the process.
A chamfer is a transitional edge between two sides of an object, also referred to as a bevel. You use the chamfer on a workpiece to produce a bevel or furrow. You can use a chamfer to smooth a workpiece's jagged or dangerous edges.
You use a rough turning tool to remove the most considerable amount of material from the stock. In contrast, you use a finishing turning tool to achieve high surface quality by removing a little bit of material to make the item more precise.
Cutting a thread on a lathe is done with thread-cutting tools. External thread cutting involves holding the piece in a chuck or mounting it between two centers; internal thread cutting consists of keeping the part in a chuck and moving the tool over the part linearly, removing chips from the workpiece with each pass.
A grooving tool is typically a carbide insert installed in a specialized tool holder. Typically, this is an insert with several tips, frequently honed to the dimensions and form necessary for a specific purpose, such as cutting a groove and completing other operations.
Understanding the advantages of using a lathe machine will help take your work to the next level. At DZ Sales, we offer everything you need to create high-quality machining projects, such as CNC lathe tool holders, to maximize your efficiency. Feel free to contact us with any questions about our products.