A Quick Guide to CNC Lathe Axis

Posted on Dec 22, 2020

CNC Lathe Axis

CNC lathe machines, which are also known as CNC machining centers, are advanced lathes that are equipped with a third lathe axis, fourth lathe axis, and even fifth lathe axis. In this case, the CNC rotating lathes which have more than 2 axes are also called the turning centers. CNC lathe axis refers to the axis on this computer numerical control machine.

What is CNC Lathe Axis?

For starters, CNC refers to computer numerical control, which is a system where the operation and tools’ motion are controlled and driven by programmed computer software. Lathes are machines that are used to cut or shape the raw materials by rotating the products which will be worked against the machining tools.

Conventional lathes refer to the machines with only 2-axis. However, CNC lathe machines, which are also known as CNC machining centers, are advanced lathes that are equipped with a third lathe axis, fourth lathe axis, and even fifth lathe axis. In this case, the CNC rotating lathes which have more than 2 axes are also called the turning centers. CNC lathe axis refers to the axis on this computer numerical control machine.
    
Instructions are transported into a series of sequential commands through CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, then CNC lathes can manipulate the axes depending on the programmed instructions. Without manpower for physical operation, the applications of CNC machining center reduce the cost and time, and enhance the accuracy and level of productivities.

:: Read more : CNC Lathes Are the Workhorse of Any Machine Shop


9 CNC Lathe Axes and the Movement

When it comes to the 9 CNC lathe axes in CNC machining centers, there are X, Y, Z axis which are the linear axes, A, B, C axis that refer to the rotation axes, and also U, V, W axis which are the parallel axes respectively along the X, Y, Z axis. Operating along the XYZ planes, the X axis operates vertically while the Y axis operates horizontally, and Z is the depth direction. Z axis is the CNC lathe axis which is aligned with the main axis of the machining centers. Typically, the movement of X axis is from left to right; Y axis moves from front to back; last but not least, the Z axis moves upward and downward. As for the fourth axis, which is referred to as the A axis, it is the 180° rotation axis around X axis. Similarly, the B and C axes represent the 180° rotation around the Y, Z axis correspondingly on the 5-axis machining center.

:: Read more : The Secrets of Efficient CNC Lathe Machining Revealed Here


Machining Center with Multiple CNC Lathe Axis

The number of the axes of the CNC lathes define the type of the metalwork they can do, the quality and detail they are able to achieve, and also the locations of products they can work on. As mentioned above, we learned that there are XYZ, ABC and UVW axes. In 2 axis lathes, there are X and Z axes; In 3 axis lathes, there are X, Y and Z axes; while in 4 axis lathes, there are X, Y, Z axes with A axis rotating around X axis. Last but not least, in 5 axis lathes, there are X, Y, Z axes with A, B, C axes rotating around X, Y, Z axes. Following is the introduction of 2-axis lathe, 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis machining centers. To illustrate better:


● CNC 2 Axis Lathes:

Standard 2-axis lathes have X and Z axes, the operators can rotate the workpieces inside and outside.


● CNC 3 Axis Lathes:

The workpieces are positioned in the same location when the cutting tool works against the materials along the XYZ plane in CNC machining. 3-axis machining lathes are ideal for workpieces that require less details and less depth of cutting. They are suitable for applications such as milling, drilling holes, cutting edges on metal parts and so on.


● CNC 4 Axis Lathes:

Compared to 3 axis lathes, this type of CNC machining center has additional rotary movement can be utilized, which is the A axis. The fourth axis can automatically spin the parts to another side for the cutting tools to remove the materials. The feature is greatly suitable for products that require drilling holes or cutting on both sides, continuously or intermittent cutting or engraving the surfaces.


● CNC 5 Axis Lathes:

The metal parts can be automatically moved from 5 sides at one time, allowing a single part to be worked on all five sides during the machining. The operators can select two of the A, B, C rotation axes along with the basic X, Y, Z axes to manipulate the works. The system requires greater CNC programming instructions and preparing time for substantially more complex movements. CNC 5-axis lathes can provide high quality of surface finishes, intricate shape cutting, high precision, rapid production for many industrial applications. For instance, they are widely used in aerospace, shipbuilding, automobile, and other industrial manufacturing like milling, laser cutting, and water jet cutting materials.


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