As an essential piece of machinery for many industries, the lathe is utilized to produce desired results ranging from turnings and facings to knurling, drilling, and grinding. This versatile tool works by rotating a workpiece along its axis of revolution which allows artisans in occupations such as woodworking and metalworking to achieve their objectives.
A lathe motor is situated at one end of the bed, where a spindle-fitted headstock can hold a variety of tools. Opposite, the tailstock can be altered to include workpieces of any size. When secured to the bed, the workpiece is spun in motion and is expertly sculpted by the cutting tool until it achieves its desired shape and dimensions.
Lathe technology is best divided into two major categories – engine and turret. If you’re looking for a versatile and everyday sort of lathe, an engine lathe will more than likely be perfect for your projects. On the other hand, for heavier and larger pieces, a turret lathe with its tool-holding turret comes in handy.
With the help of a lathe, a manufacturer can produce an astounding variety of shapes and surfaces. The most popular method is turning, which produces cylinders. Facing is second in popularity, and is perfect for developing flat surfaces. A chamfer can be added if desired to further refine the product. A machine operator can also use a lathe to handle more intricate tasks such as drilling, reaming, boring and tapering.
To make a variety of openings, drilling, reaming, boring, and tapping are all applicable methods. When requiring a finished look, countersinking or counterboring may be utilized for added refinement and structure. For tapered shapes, chamfering adds a perfect touch.
Shaping, holding, and sharpening the cutting wheels for lathes takes specialized tools, like tool bits, toolposts, and chucks. These are the common components for all kinds of lathe tooling.
The cutting tools known as tool bits require mounting using a tool post in order to be affixed to either the turret or spindle. On the other hand, chucks are deployed for securing the workpiece in place, meaning they require attachment to either the spindle or turret as well.
To boost the lathe’s capabilities, lathe accessories can be employed. From indexing heads and live centers to steady rests, there is no shortage of accessories that may be put to use in aiding lathe projects.
The turret or spindle can be precisely adjusted thanks to indexing heads which serve tasks like reaming, drilling, and boring. Long workpieces knowing no bounds are well supported by steady rests securely mounted on the bed or cross slide. And for stable workpieces, live centers collide in the tailstock.
Working with small, lightweight objects? Then a manual lathe is the way to go. Crafted by hand, this type of setup is the ideal choice for finesse-oriented tasks. When working with bigger, heavier pieces though, nothing beats an automatic lathe. Programmed with a computer, these sophisticated contraptions provide precision and heavy-duty power.
Computer-controlled CNC lathes are used for many types of projects, and they are categorised by the amount of axes that they have. There are three axes typically associated with CNC lathes, which are X, Y and Z.
The X-axis serves to traverse the cutting tool horizontally across the workpiece. Meanwhile, the Y-axis provides the tool with vertical capacity; it facilitates travel up and down along the surface of the piece. As for the Z-axis, this one is responsible for mobility along the length of the work, creating zigzagging pathways that slice through.
Built with multiple axes, a CNC lathe can both rotate and tilt workpieces of all shapes and sizes. The A axis allows for rotating of the pieces while the B axis aids in their tipping.