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Posted on Jun 16, 2021
Swiss CNC machining refers to the process where complex parts are manufactured in the short run. The process is carried out by the Swiss lathe. Originated from the Swiss watchmaking industry, a Swiss lathe machine (Swiss-type lathe) is a multi-axis turning center that excels at tight-tolerance machining operations.
Back in the 19th century, Swiss lathes were made to manufacture watch parts. Today, a Swiss CNC machine produces precision parts for multiple industries. In this article, we will cover the construction, the features and advantages, and the applications of the Swiss lathe.
A CNC Swiss-type lathe is essentially a turning lathe. A conventional turning lathe clamps a workpiece with the headstock (and tailstock). As the workpiece turns, the cutting tool approaches it and cuts away materials. A Swiss CNC lathe has two extra components that further guarantee stability and precision in machining: the guide bushing and the chucking collet.
The guide bushing and chucking collet are the parts that serve as an additional clamping system to hold the workpiece in place during the machining process. Along with the sliding headstock, the bar stock only exposes the part that is machined. This design decreases deflection and improves accuracy.
Fig. Guiding Bush
On a conventional turning lathe, the headstock is fixed. It does not allow any movement and it is sometimes a hassle to re-clamp the workpiece. However, with the sliding headstock, a Swiss lathe is able to feed the workpiece immediately after the previous process is completed.
A Swiss CNC turning center is considerably different from the conventional turning lathes due to its unique construction and features. Below are the advantages of a Swiss-type CNC lathe.
The Swiss-type CNC lathe was designed to make tiny parts for wristwatches and pocket watches. The manufacture of these complex parts requires a high level of flexibility and precision to carry out. A Swiss lathe has multi-axis machining capabilities. Some models can machine in up to 13 axes. Therefore, it can process workpieces with intricate designs.
Swiss CNC machining can handle mass production in a short lead time. In fact, the Swiss-type CNC lathe has a cycle time shorter than most other CNC machines. This is because of the multi-axis machining capability and the bar stock feeding approach. The Swiss lathe can perform multiple operations such as turning, threading, and milling in one run.
Tight tolerances are achieved thanks to the firm support of the bar stock during operation. The bushing guide and chucking collet hold the bar throughout the whole machining process. The firm support ensures the highest level of stability of the workpiece. As a result, the workpiece is not affected by the machining force.
Since the parts manufactured by a Swiss lathe have extremely tight tolerances and high precision, they usually do not require a secondary machining step for a finer finish. Without the need for post-processing, the use of Swiss CNC machines cuts down the production cost significantly, which is why it prevails in more and more industries.
:: Read More: Swiss Turn Lathes vs. Conventional CNC Machines
Generally speaking, a Swiss lathe can work with almost all materials. It can process common metals such as aluminum, brass, carbon, steel, copper, etc. It can also cut exotic materials such as nickel, nylon, plastics, titanium, stainless steel, and more.
Watchmaking is still one of the industries that use Swiss CNC machining technology. That said, it is also commonly applied in other industries, including medical, computer science, aerospace, military, just to name a few. Swiss lathes today are used to make medical tools and components since tight tolerances and high-precision are becoming standard requirements.
SY2-42E, CC Machinery
Chiah Chyun Machinery is an experienced Swiss-type lathe and Slant bed lathe manufacturer in Taiwan. The SY2-42E model is one of their best-selling Swiss lathe machines which provides the option to go with or without a guide bush. Its front tooling system increases machining flexibility and efficiency.
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