You can trace the history of the lathe’s origin as far back as 1300 B.C. as it was used by ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Assyrians, and the Greeks. Over the centuries, we have seen the lathe evolve from a two-person, bow-driven machine during ancient times to its wide adoption and popularity during the Industrial Revolution, and now to the sophisticated precision CNC (Computer Numerical Control) turning machines we have today.
The Nuts & Bolts of Lathes
The difference between lathes and turning centers
For the most part, lathes today are commonly referred to as CNC lathes and CNC turning centers. The CNC lathe is a simpler 2-axis (X and Z-axis) machine that is computer-controlled and generally has one spindle. They are commonly flat-bed type and may have only minimal protective enclosure around the machine and the machine ways.
CNC turning centers are also computer controlled but are more powerful and can have 3, 4 or 5-axes with more versatile capabilities and applications such as turning, drilling, tapping, and milling using live tools with powered rotary tool turret, sub-spindle (dual spindles), Y-axis, and multiple turrets. They are usually slant-bed type and have full machine enclosures to keep chips and coolant splashes within the machine. CNC turning centers have higher production capabilities than CNC lathes.(more)
Aloi Materials Handling & Automation of Rochester, NY announced that is has acquired Automated Cells & Equipment (ACE) of Painted Post, NY and plans to integrate operations into a single company.(more)
No matter how sophisticated the machine shop, no matter how many CNCs it owns and operates, you’ll always find a knee mill on the floor. That’s because knee mills are the machine of choice for prototyping, secondary operations, and tooling and fixture work; for shops that are just starting out, knee mills are often the very first machine purchased. They’re flexible, easy to operate, and there’s little that a capable machinist can’t make on one.
Maybe yours is a starter shop. Maybe you’re considering another knee mill to add capacity to your existing equipment. Either way, there are several features you should look for in a new machine:(more)
It is no secret that e-mobility is a growing market. A current study by the consulting firm Strategy Analytics, predicts the production output of “electric vehicles” will increase to 25% of the global market by 2025. It should be noted that the study uses “electric” as an umbrella term that covers all aspects of e-mobility, i.e. hybrids, fuel cell drives, and pure electric vehicles, and that the markets are highly heterogeneous. It is expected that 50% of the production will take place in China, and the other 50% will be throughout the rest of the world.
Heterogeneous markets means multiple manufacturers, even more models, and diverse drive concepts. In addition, about three quarters of vehicles will continue to have traditional combustion engines. This puts production planners and automotive industry suppliers in a difficult situation: How do you manage this product diversity and increasing production volumes? For many years, EMAG has been providing answers to these questions with a broad range of production solutions for components used mainly in powertrain applications.
Digitalization and e-mobility—just one of these megatrends would already be enough to unleash massive transformations in the manufacturing and machinery industries. But when both occur at the same time, what should change and how should businesses prepare? These questions will be the main focus of the 2019 EMAG Technology Forum to be held on May 15 and 16 in Salach, Germany. The event takes a comprehensive look into the future and at the same time provides very concrete answers to these questions and more. It will also be an opportunity to bring together both science and practice. Renowned experts will talk about “Tomorrow’s Mobility” and “Big Data” in the manufacturing process and EMAG experts will show new production solutions for e-mobility in a variety of sessions within the theme area.
In 1979, Kent Industrial USA Inc started with a line of precision surface grinders focused on delivering quality, value, and service to the metalworking industry from small job shops to large manufacturing enterprises. Today, the company offers conventional and CNC models of knee mills, bed mills, tool room lathes, oil country lathes, bandsaws, sinker, and wire-cut EDM, in addition to surface grinders, cylindrical grinders, centerless grinders, and tool & cutter grinders – with more than 22,000 machines sold globally.(more)
There’s one basic rule of shop floor economics that everyone should know: if the machines aren’t making chips, the business is losing money. But the shape of those chips and their removal from the work area is every bit as important as producing them in the first place.
For instance, the bird’s nest of long, stringy chips so common when machining aluminum, stainless steel, and superalloys is not only dangerous to the machine operator, but is a great way to break cutting tools and destroy workpieces when it inevitably becomes wedged in the wrong place at the wrong time. And few machining sounds are more cringe-worthy than the crunch…crunch…crunch of chips being recut, quite possibly signaling a chipped and soon-to-be-broken cutting tool.(more)
Cylindrical grinding is one of the oldest of all machining technologies. Though credit for its invention remains a bit fuzzy, most attribute development of the first production grinding machine to Charles Norton (ironically, not the same Norton of grinding wheel fame), who worked at Brown and Sharpe and was charged by company founder Joseph Brown with working the kinks out of the “universal grinding machine” he’d been struggling with for some time.
Since that time, cylindrical grinding has evolved into the go-to method for producing extremely precise round components such as shafts, mandrels, bearing journals, and core pins, as well as creating formed shapes and contours on a wide variety of turned parts.
With all the talk these days of hard turning, however, never mind the availability of ever more complex, capable, and above all highly accurate CNC lathes, it’s easy to wonder if cylindrical grinding is going the way of cam-actuated screw machines and high-speed steel tool bits.(more)
Sometimes, however, a simpler solution is called for: the basic two-axis CNC lathe. (more)
Have a few dozen hydraulic manifolds to make? The KHV-400 allows you to machine the ports on each side using the horizontal spindle, and without relocating the part, machine the top face and intersecting holes with the vertical spindle. The same approach can be used on a variety of everyday workpieces, including mounting brackets, electronics enclosures, engine components, and more.
The machine comes standard with 10,000-rpm cooled spindles, dual tool changers, loads of working space, and twice the productivity. And if you’re wondering about programming what is essentially two machine tools in one, Kent Machine Tool has made switching between vertical and horizontal programming easy with an innovative merge function. Check it out—for many shops, the KHV-400 will settle the vertical vs. horizontal argument once and for all.(more)
Mistakes are less likely with a CNC. There’s no chance of cranking the handle one turn too far or forgetting to zero out the DRO after picking up an edge. There’s no need for a calculator or trigonometry tables when laying out a bolt hole pattern—just plug in a couple values and get drilling. That nerve-wracking pocket you worked on for two hours last week is child’s play on a CNC knee mill. Part quality’s better, tool life increases, and the pile of parts sitting on the bench at the end of each shift will be much higher when a knee mill has CNC capabilities.
One look at the computer screen mounted to the side of the thing, though, and you might be tempted to avoid all that programming stuff and stick with your trusty DRO. But CNC knee mills are surprisingly easy to operate—the Acu-Rite MillPwr G2 control available on all Kent USA CNC knee mills, for example, is both user friendly and powerful, with simplified navigation screens, offline programming functions, Ethernet and USB ports, and a 3D-graphics display that will never leaving you guessing about a part feature.(more)