Slant Bed Lathe

What Is a Slant Bed Lathe?

A slant bed lathe is perhaps one of the most well-known and common CNC lathes today. Sometimes, we also refer to them as machining centers. A slant bed lathe is a highly automated machine used for various turning operations. With its unique inclined bed design, the machine is most notable for its effective chip evacuation, capable of removing chips produced during cutting quickly and easily. 

A slant bed lathe comes in a variety of configurations. For instance, equipping the machine with a power turret can open up many multi-tasking possibilities. It can process linear and diagonal cylinders, and other more complex objects such as threads, slots, and worms. That being said, a standard slant bed lathe slants at 30 or 45 degree, while some models are available at a 60-degree angle as well.  

Figure 1. 45-Degree Slant Bed CNC Lathe, Young Tech


Complementing Power Tools

Following the above, it is a common practice to equip a slant bed CNC lathe with a selection of power tools to improve its functionality. Power turrets, as one of the most common lathe accessories, are often used to ensure maximum rigidity in the cutting process. In addition to power turrets, tool magazines and automatic tool changers (ATC) are often used to improve cycle times and energy conservation as well. It is also worth noting that Taiwan has a robust manufacturer base for top-of-the-line power turrets and tool magazines. Many businesses across the globe rely on the supply of these powerful tools from Taiwan to improve their production.

Figure 2. A CNC Lathe Machine with Double Turrets

Horizontal and Vertical Design

As with lathes in general, slant bed lathes can be divided into two main types based on how the workpiece is clamped, namely the vertical and horizontal lathes. In horizontal clamping, the workpiece is held on the joint of the spindle, which is directly driven by a built-in motor. The hydraulic cylinders apply force to the chuck device to firmly stabilize the workpiece.

In vertical clamping, the workpiece is held vertically, as with the direction in which the cutting tools are installed. The spindles are located behind the chucks, and are mostly belt-driven. Generally speaking, slant bed lathes incorporate the vertical design because of more reliable clamping due to gravity. 

The Advantages of Slant Bed Lathes

The four advantages of slant bed lathes are outlined as follows:

High Accuracy
What often affects the machining accuracy of a CNC lathe is what we refer to as backlash. As long as there is a gap between the drive screw and the nut in a CNC lathe,  backlash may happen. And the repeated occurrence of such can affect the machining accuracy. A slant bed CNC lathe usually uses a high-precision ball screw as the drive screw. The inclined bed design allows gravity to directly act on the precision ball screw to its axial direction, thereby reducing the backlash during the transmission to almost zero. 

High Rigidity
A slant bed lathe has an exceptionally large cross-sectional area which increases bending and torsion resistance. When the cutting tool of the inclined bed cuts above the workpiece, the direction of the force and the gravity is basically the same. This allows the spindle to run smoothly and prevents vibration from cutting. It is a very notable advantage over the flat bed counterpart where the tool cuts perpendicular to the workpiece.

High Degree of Automation
What makes a slant bed CNC machine automatic is its adoption of a milling power head, automatic feeding, automatic chip conveyor, one-clamping cutting process, and automatic cutting. This type of lathe is in fact one the most highly automated machines in the lathe family. All of these features make a slant bed CNC lathe highly efficient in terms of automated production.

Convenient Chip Removal
As previously mentioned, the incline bed design allows the cutting force to move towards the same direction as gravity. The chips produced during cutting fall directly downward, making chip removal an extremely convenient process. Furthermore, with the guide rail to protect the sheet metal, chips are less likely to accumulate on the screw and guide rail.

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