What Is a Swiss Lathe Machine?

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

Swiss Lathe Machine

Swiss lathe machine, also known as the Swiss CNC turning machine, is designed for high-performance metalworking applications especially for manufacturing tiny components, at a high operating speed.

What is the Swiss Lathe Machine?

Swiss lathe machine, also known as the Swiss CNC turning machine, is designed for high-performance metalworking applications especially for manufacturing tiny components, at a high operating speed.

This Swiss-type machine tool was originally invented for producing extremely small and intricate parts in Swiss watches. Today, Swiss lathe machines employ CNC systems in order to provide a broad category of swiss machining operations across the industries, obtaining more and more popularities in the market. With the equipment, the tolerance within the high-performance turning process can be down to tenths of a thousandth of an inch.

Under the rapid operating speed, the Swiss lathe machine with a CNC system is a common and preferred machining center that is particularly suitable for high volume production for utmost intricate and small products. The turning machine can stably place and hold the small parts with the guide bushing and collet after the feeder delivers the materials into the machine tools. Subsequently, the bar stocks will be gripped and moved through the tooling area. 

Only the required portion of the metal parts will be guided to the machining area in this Swiss lathe machine, the raw materials will be held firmly in place. Further details of these advanced turning machines and the essential components will be introduced in the next section.


How Does a Swiss Lathe Machine Work?

The essential components of a Swiss-type turning machine include the collet, the tool holder bushing, and the CNC system. In general, the collet chucks are installed behind the bushing, and the fixed cutting tools are mounted in front of the bushing, which is located on the Z-axis.

Collet Chuck: The collet is one type of chuck that creates a collar around the workpiece to hold it, exerting a strong clamping force onto the piece while the collet is tightened. Collet chuck in Swiss lathe machines can clamp the raw materials for swiss machining or blanks.

With the component, the user can check and adjust the concentricity in order to ensure the minimal runout and ideal concentricity of the tiny parts. The collet chuck of the lathe machine is not only used to grip the materials but also the semi-finished parts or cutters in main or sub spindles or heads of general turning machines and Swiss-type machines. 

In addition to the collet, Guide bushing, a simple flanged metal that is fixed to the router base, also essential for work holding. With the CNC system, the rigid bushing permits excellent cutting performance on a slender workpiece that is held firmly to prevent any deflection and vibration. 

Tool Holder Bushing: There are many special tool holders which are specialized for Swiss lathe machines. A large variety of cutting tools that are mounted on the tool holder advance to the workpiece while the parts themselves move forward and backward on the Z-axis or in other directions. With the motions, the utmost swiss machining operations work on the area which is near the harder guide bushing. 

In addition to normal tool holders, there are many unique or customized tool holders and tools to meet the special requirements. For Swiss lathe machines, the tool holders are produced to allow micro-turning operations and a faster feeding rate while ensuring an ideal surface finish. Also, there are tool holders that have unique geometries for difficult alloys and chip breakers to eliminate any operation failure. With the advanced tool holders, the cutting edge repeatability can be within 0.0004", achieving swiss machining for cut-off, thread cutting, turning, groove cutting, and more applications.

Lathe Axis: The X, Y, Z axes on different lathe machines or turning centers are referred to as the linear working direction while the A, B, C axes are the rotational ones, 180 degrees spinning around those linear axes on 4-axis or 5-axis lathe machines. The Z-axis is typically the operational direction that aligns with the main axis of a Swiss lathe machine. The additional axes allow the equipment to perform more flexible as well as utmost precise cutting operations. 

CNC System: CNC, is the computerized control system called “Computer Numerical Control System”. It delivers fully programmed instructions which are in the form of CAD files to drive the motions of moving parts in a Swiss lathe machine. With the servo control and simple setup, the complex micro-turning operations can be completed without any manual adjustment and monitoring by workers. The swiss turning operations of the lathe machines are much more reliable and rapid.

:: Read more: An Introduction to CNC Swiss Lathe


Live Tools in the Swiss Lathe Machine

The multiple spindles and live tooling system are a popular configuration in a Swiss lathe machine for high-performance micro-turning operations. Live tooling refers to the tools that are powered by their separate motors in the spindles, which further enhance the accuracy. It is actually cost-efficient to use the live tooling system instead of performing the secondary operations or finishing jobs on other machines after the CNC machining process is completed in a Swiss-type turning machine.

For instance, the products need to be added features by automatically drilling perpendicularly to the main axis, this secondary operation will be more convenient and rapid to be completed through the live tooling system under the control of CAD software in the same, single lathe machine, allowing the main axis and other machines to perform other complex operations at the same time.


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