Swiss Turn

Just like Swiss turn machines, Swiss watch movements have long been regarded as the benchmark for precision craftsmanship, precise timekeeping and reliability. Even in this digital age, luxury watches from Swiss brands are expensive and coveted by their owners as a symbol of success.

To make these watch parts have strict tolerances, a high-precision Swiss turning and cutting machine is required. Swiss turning machine tool manufacturers were not satisfied with the existing technology, so they invented the Swiss-Style lathe to meet their needs. Today, Swiss turning centers also produce high-precision, high-volume parts for medical products, dental implants, aerospace, measuring instruments and many other applications.

Should you consider adding a Swiss Style Lathe to your store? If you want to enable long production runs of high precision parts, especially small diameter ones, then a Swiss style machine can be a good investment. As with all purchasing decisions, the more you know about Swiss Style lathe operation and construction, the better equipped you will be to make an informed choice. Here are 7 things you should know about Swiss style machines:

1. The primary difference between traditional lathes and Swiss lathes is that the former has a fixed headstock that keeps the workpiece rotating as the cutting tool moves across to machine the outer diameter. The Swiss-style machine, on the other hand, uses a sliding headstock that feeds the bar through a Z-axis guide bushing next to a stationary cutting tool always engages the bar stock close to the bushing, thus providing the greatest degree of support and, consequently, reducing vibration and tool deflection. As a result, a well designed and built Swiss turning lathe holds even long, slender workpieces to tighter tolerances and enables hard turning when applicable.

2. Some Swiss-style lathes include an auxiliary spindle for additional machining operations such as drilling and boring. This versatility eliminates the need to move parts from one machine to another, thus reducing total production time, labor costs, operator error and spindle idle time.

3. The guide bushing and spindle are at the heart of the Swiss turn lathe's ability to maintain tight tolerances. Since the spindle is hollow, it is extremely important that the spindle material provides the optimum degree of stiffness. For example, some machine builders use SCM415 chrome molybdenum steel for their spindles. After precision machining, the outside of the spindle is heat treated to ensure durability, while the inside is conditioned to a different degree of hardness. This patented process enables the spindle to maintain greater strength, precision and stability.

4. Although Swiss-style lathes are designed to provide a more stable cutting environment, the blank is rarely perfectly straight or circular and can generate vibration that affects precision and tool wear. Swiss-type lathes that do not rely on a belt drive tend to produce less vibration and are therefore more stable and precise. A sliding headstock also needs to move smoothly and accurately. The use of a linear guide with preloaded roller washers helps to achieve this precise movement, while the sliding mechanism absorbs most of the harmonic vibrations generated by the rapid rotation of the bar.

5. The leading surfaces of Swiss-type machines should be as smooth and flat as possible to increase stability and further reduce the effects of vibration. While powerful scraper machines can be productive, nothing comes close to the precision of hand scraping by an experienced craftsman. The hand scraped surface of the machine can provide an ultra-precise surface with sub-micron unevenness below 0.0001mm.

6.Other details to pay attention to include larger than average heavy duty ball screws in each axis to transfer power more efficiently from the motor to the headstock, tool holders guided by dovetail guides that run on a thin layer of oil, and the use of structurally stable materials such as cast iron for key components. As these types of ball screws and guides reduce the effects of inertia, machines will last longer and require less maintenance, thus increasing your return on investment.

7. In order to optimize the productivity of Swiss lathes, a suitable automatic bar feeder enables continuous, unattended or even off operation. They also provide additional material support to further reduce vibration and protect operators from bar rotation at high speeds.

Easily accessible technical service, spare parts, training and ongoing customer support are also critical considerations when choosing a Swiss turn lathe. Working with the right supplier can reduce your true cost of ownership and provide the greatest ROI.

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