CNC lathes, also known as movable tool lathes, are ideal for cutting any symmetrical cylindrical or spherical parts. Typically, a lathe rotates the workpiece on a vertical or horizontal axis, while a fixed forming tool moves around the workpiece in a more or less linear path. The action of cutting a workpiece on a CNC lathe is called turning.
How CNC turning works
CNC lathes use subtraction to create the desired shape. After creating the G code, load the blank blank into the chuck of the lathe spindle. When the spindle rotates, the chuck fixes the workpiece in place. When the spindle reaches its maximum speed, the stationary cutting tool is brought into contact with the workpiece to remove material until the desired geometry is obtained.
Many operations can be performed on a movable tool lathe, including face finishing, threading, knurling, drilling, boring, reaming, and taper turning. Different operations require tool replacement, and will increase cost and setup time.
After all machining operations are completed, parts will be cut from inventory for further post-processing. Then, the CNC lathe can repeat the operation with almost no setup time.