Turning Center and Machining Center: A Comparison

Posted on Jan 6, 2020

Turning Center

Turning centers and machining centers are important machine tools to the modern manufacturing industry. They both are capable of dealing with heavy-duty tasks and achieving high-precision machining requirements. It appears to many manufactures that these two types of machine tools are somewhat identical to each other. Though several traits are shared among them, the turning centers and machining centers are definitely two particular tools that are designed to take on different tasks.

What Is a Turning Center?

A turning center is also known as a CNC lathe. It is a machine that rotates a workpiece on a shaft so that a series of machining processes can be performed on it. Unlike the conventional semi-auto turning lathes, the turning centers are a more advanced machine tool. With the powerful auxiliary equipment such as quick tool changer (QTC), automatic tool changer (ATC), secondary spindle, and the CNC system, etc. they are capable of conducting various machining operations, such as cutting, knurling, and grinding, just to name a few.

Why Is a QTC/ATC Necessary?

As mentioned, a turning center is a highly-advanced comprehensive machine tool capable of performing multiple processes. Each of the machining processes requires a particular set of cutting tools and the process of changing tools is often time-consuming. To amend this situation, a system that helps the machine change the tools in a faster fashion and reduce the machine idle time is needed. This very need has led to the advent of the quick tool change system, the QTC and ATC.

The two primary types of quick tool change systems, QTC/ATC, that typically work with a turning center or machining center is the tool turret and tool magazine. They both come in with the configuration of a round plate with the center connected to a shaft that rotates the plate. The cutting tools are mounted onto the perimeter of the disc either radially or axially. With such a configuration, tool changing becomes a matter of simply rotating the cutter to the right position to perform a process. The larger the disc, the more tools the machine can use. Therefore, the more tasks it can conduct.

Tool Turret as the QTC/ATC of a Turning Center

Tool turrets sometimes referred to as power turret, of CNC turning centers is necessary to complete machining tasks. Most power turrets are driven by a single motor with a servo function, which ensures the best machining effect and decreases energy consumption. At the same time, they also provide high rigidity for the workpiece and ideal cutting capacity in CNC turning process. In addition, the tool magazine and ATC are also the best-selling products of Taiwan machine tool accessories suppliers.

Taiwan's tool magazine and ATC system provide customers with the best tool based on their cycle time engineering and can help manufacturers meet their order requirements. Like other milling machines and machining centers, lathes can also be equipped with power tools and tool magazines to improve their functionality and versatility and provide users with greater processing possibilities. The power tool holder is a modern standard accessory for CNC lathes.

As one of the most important accessories for CNC lathe users, Taiwan suppliers have targeted this business and developed many types of power turret to support the demands of lathe users all over the globe.

→ Read more: Two major lathe machine categories explained. Horizontal vs. Vertical

Vertical vs. Horizontal

From the ordinary point of view of lathe habits, turning centers with turrets are divided into two main types based on the way of clamping the workpiece. These are vertical turning centers and horizontal turning centers. For the vertical type, the workpiece is clamped vertically. The cutting tools are installed in the same direction, and the machining can be performed vertically. Both methods are acceptable for most processing tasks, but sometimes when the processing becomes tricky, the direction is important.

Compared with the horizontal method, when the vertical arrangement is adopted, the clamping effect of CNC turning centers is more firm and fixed due to the gravity effect. The manufacturers of vertical lathes usually turn the vertical lathes into first-class manufacturing equipment for users in a variety of industrial sectors that pursue high precision, such as the automotive industry, aerospace, sports equipment applications, and other fields with larger-sized workpieces and other objects and materials.

Turning and Milling Comparison

Regarding the comparison of any two machine tool models in the machinery industry, we must first understand the application as the most basic premise, so that the comparison is meaningful.

Otherwise, it is completely inappropriate to compare the driving speed and swing radius of the excavator and the racing car.

For concentric workpieces with rotational machining, the CNC turning process will be more efficient, and with the support of the power turret, the profiles can be excellent.

At the same time, if the workpieces are not concentric, and the machining requirements have a different angle and phase requirements, milling-based machinery, such as machining centers and milling machines, are more suitable for such machining tasks.

Using an automatic tool changer system with one or more together, the tool magazine can even cut the workpiece quicker. For the on-site operator, the entire process can be achieved smoothly, they do not need to manually change all the details, but the computer system CNC can do everything.

In short, each type of machine tool has its own advantages, it is the user needs to understand how to choose between machine tool models base on their processing requirements.

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