Who Uses a Swiss CNC Lathe?

Posted on Sep 17, 2020

swiss CNC lathe

Who uses Swiss CNC lathes? The answer may vary. In a 2013 Capital Expenditure Survey, one notable change in machine tool purchases is for companies that expect to purchase a Swiss CNC machine. In recent years, this survey has routinely shown that medical and electronic applications account for a large share of the expected expenditure on such machines.

This year, projected expenses are spread more evenly across the various industry applications. If this change indicates a trend, it suggests that many stores are just discovering the value of Swiss CNC machines and that many stores are installing these types of machines for the first time.

An example is the production of certain products. The contract manufacturer has 35 CNC machine tools, including horizontal and vertical machining centers and CNC lathes. His latest machine purchase is the swiss cnc lathe B0124 CNC from Tsugami.


Rotary broaching : Making hard materials look easy

The application in this case has to do with defense. swiss cnc lathe machining provides an economical way to produce dust shield pins and needles used in military rifles. These long, slender features have a tolerance of 0.0005 inches in the part diameter.

In the past, parts were machined on a more conventional CNC turning center. The box tool turned the exact diameter. However, when a customer asked to be able to order parts in smaller quantities and with shorter lead times, the store had to begin building inventory to fulfill the request. Storing the inventory was associated with additional costs, so they had to find a compensatory reduction in costs. The increase in productivity due to the faster rotation of the spindles on the swiss cnc lathe CNC provided the necessary savings.

A swiss cnc lathe is a variation of the lathe that feeds material through a guide bushing. This means that the external turning tool can always cut material close to the sleeve and therefore near the fulcrum, no matter how long the workpiece. The machine feeds the work out of the spindle and past the tool as it goes. This makes the CNC Swiss-type particularly effective for long and slender turned parts.

In a way, buying a swiss cnc lathe CNC meant going full circle. His company was a screw machine workshop. When he bought it from its previous owner, it was a cam-drive automatic lathe for the precision production of small turned parts. The toolmaker had no previous experience with this type of machine, so he learned how to use it. He learned, in his own time and with his own hands, how to set up these machines and use them effectively and even efficiently. Based on the revenue from these machines, he gradually expanded the store (from 7,000 square feet then to 22,000 square feet today) and added more CNC machines. Now the newest of these machines is of the Swiss type.

Compared to other CNC machines, he says the biggest adjustment on this machine was probably programming. The machine moves in a strange way compared to other CNC lathes. Some M-codes and pending commands are also different. For the sake of learning the machine and developing proficiency with it, he for now gives up CAM software in order to manually program the machine in the control.

Finding and proving time-saving moves will enable him to use the machine more productively in the future. At least that was his experience getting to know these cam-driven machines when his shop was new. Once again, in the Swiss type, he teaches them how to operate the machine effectively.

:: Read more : Fixed Head Swiss Type Machine & Massive Production Module


Different thinking

Some people know something about this learning curve. A Swiss-type CNC programmer, who noticed the growing popularity of these machines, founded a company with the aim of facilitating the machining of machines in their proficiency. The Ohio-based company provides both contract programming and instructional services for these machines.

He says that compared to conventional CNC turning, swiss cnc lathe CNC machining is a different experience. Mechanics and programmers go from one to the other have to adapt their thinking about the machining cycle in various ways. He cites the following differences:

  • Negative becomes positive
    In the swiss cnc lathe of CNC, the movement in the Z axis comes from the material that moves instead of the tool. This change affects the nature of programming offsets.
    He says that on a conventional lathe, the buttstock protrudes a certain length from the chuck. The area of ​​the part is Z zero, and everything in the part is negative Z. On a Swiss machine, on the other hand, the turning tool is stationary and time moves on. “Z zero is the face of the part, just like on a conventional lathe, but everything except face is Z positive.
    The difference is necessary to remember when it comes to Z-axis offsets. A twist elongation or a deeper drill cut will result in a "minus" offset on a conventional lathe, but requires a "plus" offset on the Swiss type.
  • Machine in segments
    The sequence of cuts in the cycle also changes with the Swiss type. Rough turning and finishing are common on a conventional lathe, then machine features such as OD grooves or threads to complete the part. Not so on a Swiss-type.
    Due to the length of the guide sleeve, we have to divide this part into sections, otherwise the bar would fall out of the guide sleeve when we retract it. This segmentation typically involves machining the part in 0.750 inch diameter sections, the length of the standard guide sleeve surface area. Thus, the machining sequence may be: changing the outside diameter to the groove position, machining this groove, restoring the previous tool to resume external turning, and so on.
  • The guide bush is critical
    The guide bush is the heart of the swiss cnc lathe machine. Selection is essential. Using the wrong size guide bushing will result in concentricity errors.
    In addition, the guide bushings are made of various materials - carbide bushing, mehanite, steel - as the potential for interaction with the material of the workpiece is another important factor to consider.
  • Oil instead of water
    Most Swiss-type machines use oil as a coolant instead of water. The lubricity is greater. Benefits include freedom from the growth of odor-causing bacteria, as well as freedom from plum-like hands that result from exposure to water-based coolant all day long. However, the main downside is the word "coolant" itself. Compared to water, oil is less effective at dissipating heat. As a result, the Swiss cutting machine can heat up quickly in the work area - so much so that gloves or workshop towels may be required when changing tools. It is prudent to equip the machine with a fire alarm system.
  • Amazing machining cycles
    Some love to see the shift in mind that takes place when a new swiss cnc lathe user completes a part in one cycle that previously required multiple operations or even multiple machines. Conventional CNC lathes typically have three or four axes. The swiss cnc lathe is likely to have seven to 13 axles. Seeing how much work can be done quickly under the machine’s small work zone can amaze shop personnel who begin to use this type of machine for the first time.

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