A turret head is an important element to a modern CNC lathe or turning center. It is a disc-like device which serves as a platform where machining tools are mounted onto. Thus it is also called CNC tool turret or tool turret head. The advent of the tool turret marks a breakthrough of modern CNC machining. Traditionally, a CNC turning center only allows one single machining operation with one main spindle head, and the machining tool needs to be changed to perform another type of machining.
It takes a significant amount of time to change the machining tool on the spindle head in order to perform a number of machining operations on a work piece. With the use of a turret head, more than one machining operations can be performed without the need of changing the tools. With the advance of technology, power turret heads were later introduced and brought CNC machining to another level. A number of machining operations can be performed more efficiently with a power turret head.
A power turret refers to the turret head that is driven by a power system. The power system that incorporates a turret head is mostly a set of electrical motors. With a set of built-in electrical motors, changing machine tools can be conducted more efficiently and smoothly. Speaking of the change of machining tools, the tools can be mounted onto a power turret in two primary ways. The tools can be mounted axially onto the disc surface with a set of tool holders; they can also be mounted radially on the perimeter of the plate.
The way the machining tools are mounted onto a power turret head, axially or radially, has to do with the machining operations that are going to perform on the workpiece. The cutting tools that are mounted axially on the plate surface advance towards the workpiece along the axial direction of the main spindle. On the other hand, the tools that are mounted on the perimeter of the turret head advance towards the workpiece along the radial direction of the main spindle.
The axially advancing cutting tools can machine on the axial surface of a workpiece. They can be used to perform drilling, threading, or tapping, etc. The cutting tools that advance in the radial direction can be used to create grooves or slots that go along the longitudinal sides of a work piece. Operations that cut a cylindrical workpiece into a narrower shank are also performed with the tools mounted on the radial side of the power turret.
The number of machining tools that can be mounted onto a power turret head is based on the size of the plate, the design of the tool holding system, and the space the CNC turning center contains. Generally speaking, the larger the turret plate is, the more tools can be mounted. A regular power turret head allows either 6 or 8 cutting tools to be mounted on the plate; still, there are turret heads that allow 12, 16, or even more tools to be mounted.
With a power turret head, changing the cutting tools is as simple as rotating the turret plate until the desired machining tool is moved to the top position of the plate. The spinning of the cutting tool is essentially controlled by the motor that drives the main spindle. When the main spindle spins, the gear that drives the tool to spin is loaded and engaged with the spindle; therefore, when the spindle spins, the engaged tool spins to perform the machining operation and other tools that are not engaged stay stationary.
Power turrets are granted with the multi-axis movement capability with the motors. The motors not only control the rotation of the entire turret head and the spinning of the machining tools on the plate, but also drive the turret head from side to side, top to bottom, and back to forth on a CNC machining center. The multi-axis movement capability of a power turret allows more versatility and efficiency of machining. On some CNC lathes, there are 2 or 3 power turrets which allow the machining center to perform 2 or 3 operations simultaneously. With more power turrets, a machining center becomes more powerful as a result.
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