Swiss Turning Machine Overview

Posted on Jun 21, 2021

Swiss Turning Machine

Swiss turning machines are more commonly known as Swiss lathes, Swiss-type lathes, or Swiss turns. Regardless of the name, this type of lathe prevails across industries because it is more capable of handling mass production of tiny precision parts than any other CNC machine tool.

The modern Swiss-type turning machines originated from the turning lathes that manufactured screws and bolts for wristwatches and pocket watches in Sweden in the 1800s. These small parts require a high level of precision and dimensional tolerance and the Swiss lathe is the best solution. Today, Swiss turning machines are widely accepted in industries where the same high quality is required.

Industries that Use the Swiss Machines

In addition to the watchmaking industry, more industries nowadays apply Swiss machines to manufacture precision components, including military, electronics, medicine, music, aerospace, and more. The Swiss-type turning lathes make fasteners and tubings for surgical equipment, musical instrument components, and aerospace parts. They also make firing pins in rifles and handguns.

The Swiss lathes are so applicable because of their various advantages. In the following section, we will talk about the benefits of a Swiss lathe has.

What are the Advantages of a Swiss Lathe

In general, a Swiss lathe machine allows for cost-saving operations, short lead times, tight dimensional tolerances, a high level of precision, and multi-axis machining capabilities. We will walk you through all these features right now.


Applying a Swiss turning machine is a cost-saving investment to the shops. Due to their high-precision machining capability, the chipped-away materials are controlled and the waste minimized. Moreover, the machine processes small bar stocks, which come at a lower price. This also cuts down the overall production cost.

Multi-axis Machining

Swiss turning lathes come in various models based on the design and end applications, but most of them have at least six to seven machining axes. Some models even have up to thirteen axes. Equipped with more machining axes, the lathe can perform more operations in a cycle.

Short Lead Time

Since a Swiss machine is able to carry out multiple operations in a run, the parts can be completed in a shorter time. The production lead time is cut down accordingly. Depending on the production requirements, a Swiss lathe can double or even triple the productivity compared with other CNC machines.

High Precision and Tight Tolerance (H3)


Cutting with Guide Bushing (TornosGroup channel)

A high level of precision and tolerance comes from the guide bushing and chucking collet designs. A Swiss lathe feeds the bar stock through the guide bushing out of the main spindle. With the guide bushing, the bar stock only exposes the necessary parts to be machined.

The guide bushing allows the tools to cut near the support with the rest of the bar held firmly by the bushing. This cutting mechanism reduces chatter and deflection of the turned part and helps it resist the machining force. The precision of machining is obtained subsequently.


Able to Work with Various Materials

Swiss turning machines are versatile not only in the applications but also in the materials they can work with. A Swiss lathe can reliably cut metals such as aluminum, brass, carbon, steel, copper, and more. It can also cut exotic materials such as nickel, nylon, plastics, titanium, and stainless steel as well. The versatility is advantageous to the electronics industry and aerospace industry because exotic materials are used frequently in these sectors.

:: Read More: What You Need to Know about Swiss Turning

What are the Limits When Using a Swiss Lathe?

Though having quite a number of benefits, using a Swiss turning machine also comes with a few limitations. You might want to take these into consideration before purchasing a Swiss lathe for your shop.

Less Effective Heat Dissipation

Swiss lathes use oil instead of water as the cutting fluid. The advantage is that oil provides better lubrication to the work zone. However, it suffers from less effective heat dissipation. The work zone tends to get hot quickly during heavy-duty operations. As a result, it is recommended to install a fire suppression system on the machine.

Longer Setup Time

The relatively long setup time is one of the few disadvantages a Swiss-type turning lathe has. The setup time includes the replacement and adjustment of the cutting tools and the programming. The reason is that a Swiss-type machine incorporates accessories such as bar feeders and there are usually more tools involved in a CNC Swiss machining process.

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