Why Use a Bar Feeder Lathe?

Posted on Jan 10, 2021

Bar feeder lathe

A bar feeder lathe is a lathe machine that is equipped with a bar feeder, which facilitates the automatic work feeding function for the operation line of a lathe, and increases the productivity of a lathe machine. The bar feeder lathe is usually adopted as the automatic operation of a lathe, which is compatible with the CNC system.

What is a bar feeder lathe?

A bar feeder lathe is a lathe machine that is equipped with a bar feeder, which facilitates the automatic work feeding function for the operation line of a lathe, and increases the productivity of a lathe machine. The bar feeder lathe is usually adopted as the automatic operation of a lathe, which is compatible with the CNC system. Due to the combination of CNC system and a bar feeder, the bar feeder lathe is a practical and profitable device for the manufacturers.

What is a lathe?

A lathe is a machine that is commonly seen in the metalworking field, which is used in the profiling or contouring of metal workpieces, in order to make the reliable products depending on the requests of the customers. In other words, a lathe machine can be regarded as the assistance for the customization of metal products. Now we have known the importance of a lathe machine in the metal product manufacturing, then how does a lathe machine work?

How does a lathe machine work?

The working principle of a lathe machine can be simplified into the workpiece turns, and the cutting tools cut through the rotating workpiece. The metal workpiece on a lathe is clamped on a chuck that is connected with a spindle. As the spindle rotates, it drives the same motion of the workpiece in front of it. At that time, the cutting tool that is held in the middle of the bed would be moved on an axis toward the position of the workpiece. When the cutting tool comes in contact with the workpiece, the cutting tool would cut through the surface or into the workpiece either axially or radially.

The interaction between the cutting tool and workpiece on a lathe aims to create the required geometries on the surfaces finishes of the products, and the variations between the design of each one of them relies on the replacement of the cutting tools, which are the cutters with a handle and a toothed cutting tip. The invention of a lathe has made the production of metal products a visible progress for a long time, while the progress is gradually enhanced even more as the lathe is connected with the CNC technology.

CNC technology

A lathe that is combined with the CNC technology is called a CNC lathe. In addition to the existing functions that a lathe has already had, the CNC technology brings with it the automation of the operation, which allows for the techniques of the computerized systems to take the place of the manual operators. The computerized systems, which refers to the computer numerical control systems, contain the abilities to determine the parameters related to the design and the manufacturing processes. This ensures the precision of the works, which thus ensures the product consistency. The less deformation of the products, the greater productivity that the machine thereby provides for the manufacturers.

On a CNC lathe, in most cases, the workpieces that the machine works with are usually cylindrical metal bars or tubes. The loading of the workpieces seems to be a normal and simple thing in the beginning of the manufacturing processes, while there are several factors that might influence the results of the production. One of these factors is how the metal bars or tubes are fed into the work holding device on the headstock of the lathe. 

In order to be in line with the automatic operation of the CNC lathes starting from the feeding of the workpieces, the bar feeders are invented in the operation line of the CNC lathes. With a bar feeder lathe, it helps achieve the automatic loading and unloading of the works, which burnishes the functionality of a CNC lathe, and makes it a more versatile machine.

What are the components of a bar feeder lathe?

The bar feeder on a lathe is connected with the machine, and is compatible with the spindle and the chuck, which is the moving part and the work holding device respectively on the headstock of the lathe. It is applied for the first step of the manufacturing processes, and consists of a bed, a transfer stray, an optical sensor, a shuttle, a bar pusher, several clamps, and a lathe adaptor.

● bed

The bed on the bar feeder is used to store the metal bars, which are the workpieces that are supposed to be machined on the CNC lathe later. It usually comes in an uneven surface instead of a flat one, in order to allow the cylindrical bars to be stably and securely placed on it, and ready for being fed into the lathe. 

● transfer tray

The transfer tray provides a space for one workpiece to be fed into the chuck of the headstock as the desired metal bar has been chosen. This space allows the metal bar with the maximum length that is available for the length of the tray to be slid along the tray with the assistance of the bar pusher, usually a push rod.

● optical sensor

The optical sensor is set between the entry of the headstock, which is the opening that is connected with the chuck, and the transfer tray of the bar feeder. This device is used to measure the required length of the metal bar and send the message to the system, so as to choose the right bar for being fed.

● shuttle

The shuttle is the auxiliary equipment that detects whether there is still remnant of the metal bar on the transfer tray as it slides on it, in order to make sure the availability for the bar feeder lathe to be fed with the workpieces. 

● bar pusher

The bar pusher is, as the name implies, pushes the metal bars into the chuck on the headstock, which is used to facilitate the feeding of the workpieces. This device usually comes in a push rod, which is driven to rotate with the motion transmission from the servomotor.

● clamps

Since these bars are made as cylindrical shapes with round surfaces, the several clamps on the transfer tray are used to secure the metal bars, in order to prevent the bars from vibrating and cause the deformation of the products in the long run.

● lathe adaptor

The lathe adaptor is also called a liner, and is the attachment in the opening of the chuck. There are several sizes of the lathe adaptors, which are inserted through the channel of the chuck, and are able to accommodate to the metal bars with various diameters, in order to ensure the optimal security of the workpieces when they are supposed to be machined.

:: Read more: What Is a Long Bar Feeder?

How to choose the right bar feeder?

● space limit

Since the bar feeder lathe is designed with an additional device extended from the original manufacturing line, when deciding to adopt an automatic work feeding function to a CNC lathe, the space limit must be a factor to consider due to the limitation of the space in the working environment.

● required bar length

The bar feeder is dedicated to feeding the workpieces to the lathe, so before choosing a compatible bar feeder, think about whether this device is allowed for the maximum length of the bars or not and the footprint that it takes up the working environment.

● cost

The bar feeder may come in short to long loaders, which can be up to 12-foot long. The longer the required length of loader, the more complex the construction and installation of the bar feeder lathe, and this has something to do with the cost that the manufacturer has to spend. Therefore, if the budget is what may be concerned, take the above three factors into consideration, so that you can find the right bar feeder for the optimal operation of the CNC lathe.

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