Tech Facts

Why CNC Lathes Are Better Than Conventional Lathes: 5 Reasons

Computer-numerical control (CNC) machining is widely used in manufacturing, including operations that once relied on engineer-operated equipment like routers, shaping machines, vertical millers, and center lathes. CNC machines have completely replaced some operators-required equipment.

Manufacturers use CNC Lathes machining in many industries for fabrication and manufacturing purposes. A router, grinder, center lathe, vertical miller, or shaping machine can produce large quantities of items efficiently and accurately.

CNC Lathe Machine

A computer-controlled lathe machine is a modernization of a century-old tool — a manual lathe. Material is rotated along one axis (vertical or horizontal) while cutting tools attached to it shape it.

Size and shape – Like mills, CNC lathes are available in various sizes and shapes, from tiny machines to room-sized machines. Watchmakers and jewelers use miniature versions, while CNC machine shops use bulkier versions.

Material – CNC lathes can be used on a wide range of materials. Any intricate design or shape can be achieved with the right material. Below are a few common materials.

  • Prototype wax: machineable wax, plain paraffin, and beeswax
  • Lathed wood looks and feels beautiful
  • Delrin, acrylics, and Teflon
  • Stainless steel, aluminum, and brass

How does it differ from others?

CNC lathes provide some advantages over conventional lathes

1. High-skilled operators are not required

Two highly skilled operators must work with lathes, one to operate the lathe and the other to control the material. The job was challenging. Now, though, lathe tasks are easier thanks to computers and automation. One operator is needed – someone skilled enough to input the dimensions onto the machine, adjust the feed and speed, and let the computer (and the machine) handle the rest.

2. Automation for more accessible, faster work

Thanks to modern CNC lathes, it’s easier to produce hundreds, even millions, of identical parts. CNC lathes can turn out perfect pieces faster and easier than ever with machine-controlled systems. A CNC lathe can produce simple parts, intricate parts with tight tolerances, or unique, complex shapes.

3. It can be used to create a wide range of parts and products

With CNC lathes, virtually any product can be made – from sturdy furniture pieces to delicate lamps and crockery. It is easy to shape cylinders or spheres with CNC lathes, which can also be used to build replacement parts.

4. Accuracy of 99.99%

Since CNC lathes require less manual labor, they are more likely to achieve optimal accuracy. These machines are a great choice in industries requiring high precision, such as aerospace, health care, and hospitality. Additionally, CNC lathes can be used with a variety of materials. Even so, no error can be eliminated. For that reason, we’ve left 0.01% aside.

5. Cost-effectiveness

The cost of CNC lathes may be higher than manual lathes, but they still have several financial advantages, such as:

  • Low setup costs – CNC lathes have a one-time setup cost.
  • Machine costs – CNC machines recoup every investment by allowing you to produce 20x more parts than manual lathes can in a given timeframe.
  • CNC lathe work requires fewer operators, and they don’t have to be available 24/7. It frees up labor budgets for other vital operations.
  • Waste of materials – Less human error means less waste of materials.

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