A CNC or computer numerically controlled lathe is the most modern type of lathe available nowadays. It has a very different and much simpler way of setting and operating the machine, and also incorporates highly advanced methods and processes. In fact they have now rapidly replaced the earlier types of lathes in several production units and machining plants. They are now widely used by many users worldwide since they can perform many operations that were not possible with the other lathes.
There are numerous benefits of using a CNC lathe such as highly powerful axis drive, feedback control to monitor and maintain the tool position, higher speed, repetitive movement of complicated machines, etc. Further, once a program has been verified, the related operation can be quickly set up again; instead of making any tedious manual adjustments. A CNC lathe can also precisely cut curved shapes, without using any special type of shaping tools. This is possible by programming the variable speed of the two motion axes, and the spindle at the same time.
CNC lathes are simple to set and easy to operate. They primarily help to implement the innovative methods of manufacturing, in order to obtain the maximum benefit of the latest technology. The machine components are preset and the tool paths are pre-planned by the CAD and CAM processes. The programmed file is then tested and loaded on the machine. The operator thereafter issues the related commands to activate the necessary parts of the machine.
The other main benefits of the CNC lathes are their ease of setting, operation, repeatability and accuracy. They are designed to use the modern tools and after setting the machine it can continuously function for a long time under the occasional supervision of an operator. A CNC lathe is electronically controlled through a computer menu interface. The related program can be displayed on the machine, along with a virtual view of the process. Moreover the user may even modify the program as required. A general understanding and basic knowledge of the CNC lathe is necessary. Hence the machine setter and operator should have a high level of skill in order to carry out the required processes. These lathes are normally set and operated by the same individual; and the operator can easily supervise a small batch of machines.
The design of a CNC lathe generally differs and depends on the particular manufacturer. However they all have some common features. A wide range of machines in various specifications and different dimensions are now readily available in the market. These modern machines are completely enclosed, in order to maintain the industrial safety standards. Further, due to the rapid advances in technology, these CNC lathes are constantly upgraded accordingly. They include different kinds of user interfaces which are sometimes confusing and also difficult for the operators to learn. Hence all the machine users should be properly trained in order to make them fully conversant with the latest technology and get the maximum benefits of a CNC lathe.