CNC turning machines

A Complete Guide To CNC Turning Machines

Did you know that CNC turning machines can give you an edge in production?

Turning machines like CNC lathes are one of the oldest means of producing various products. The Egyptians employed the bow-driven lathe to create items around 1300 BCE.


Technology improvement has resulted in a more advanced CNC turning technique. This manufacturing process is applied in a variety of sectors. Herein, precision is achieved in the parts and components produced by the CNC turning machines. There are several more advantages to using this manufacturing technique.


In fact, by switching to CNC turning machines in your workshop, you can scale your production manifold. 


However, as a newbie, you’re sure to find the working and technology of a CNC turning machine quite tricky. And that’s precisely why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide for you, so let’s have a look. 

#1. What exactly is CNC turning?

CNC turning is a manufacturing method in which a fixed cutting tool feeds into a metal bar placed in a revolving chuck, removing material to shape and size the component. These cutting tools are positioned on a tool turret and are programmed to travel to the bar to begin machining. The raw material used in turning operations is normally a round bar, but various forms are possible.


A bar feeder moves the bar stock as each turned item is completed on certain CNC turning centers, while others use live tooling.


This adaptable feature enables cutting or adding radial or axial holes without having to remove the workpiece from the CNC lathe kit.


Some CNC turning centers feature a single spindle, while others have two spindles, one main and one sub. The item can be machined partially on the main spindle before being transported to the sub-spindle for subsequent operations.


Smaller shops and hobbyists cannot afford these massive CNC turning centers. Fortunately, there are solutions that provide all of the qualities required to remain competitive and productive.

#2. Which materials are supported by CNC turning machines?

CNC turning machines

CNC turning centers accommodate a wide range of engineering materials, including the following:


  • Metallic elements: Stainless steel 404, stainless steel 304, stainless steel 316, carbon steel 1045, titanium, alloy steel, and others).


  • Plastic: ABS, Acetal, Noryl, Nylon 6, PAI, PBT, and PEEK are among the materials used. Polycarbonate, Polyethylene, PPS, Ultem, PVDF, and other similar materials).


  • Wood: Softwood, hardwood, and plywood are all examples.


  • Foam: Polyethylene, polyurethane, cross-linked polyethylene, and specialized foams are examples.


  • Composites: Ceramic matrix composite, metal matrix composite, reinforced concrete, glass fiber reinforced concrete, and others are examples of composite materials.


The materials used in a CNC lathe turning machine, or vice versa, are heavily influenced by the maker’s demands. The most important factor is that the materials can tolerate the machining process (i.e., have sufficient hardness, tensile strength, and chemical and temperature resistance).

#3. What are the primary parts of CNC turning machines?

CNC turning machines

The CNC turning machine is a complicated center made up of parts, which we have explained below.


  • The machine bed: It is sometimes referred to as the primary base of a CNC turning center, onto which the other components are positioned.


  • The headstock: This wall holding device, which is positioned on the machine’s left side, contains the master spindle, which is coupled to servo motors that serve as spindle drivers.


  • The sub-spindle: It is distinct from the primary one and is designed to perform complementing cutting operations.


  • Tailstock: It provides axial support for the workpiece and may be adjusted along the length axis.


  • Chuck: The workpiece is held in place by this three-jaw hydraulic component. 


  • Tools turret: This component allows the machining cutting tools to be positioned.


  • The guideway: The tool can move horizontally or vertically thanks to this device.


#4. What is the process of CNC turning?

CNC turning is performed using a CNC turning center, sometimes called a ‘CNC lathe.’ Because a CNC turning center is computer-controlled, it has a great capability to do intricate tasks.


A typical CNC turning center has between 3 and 5 axes. It also features a few more tools that let it do various operations such as turning, drilling, milling, and tapping.


The following are the steps in a typical CNC turning process:

  • Typically, the starting material supplied into the CNC turning center is circular. It can, however, have different forms, such as hexagonal.


  • The length of the bar might vary based on the bar feeder. The length of the feeder determines how much work the CNC turning center does at any one time.


  • Tooling equipment placed on a turret is used in CNC turning centers. A computer controls this equipment. Other tooling equipment that may further change the material may be available.


  • The CNC’s capabilities allow the operator to watch and regulate the machine’s performance. In fact, current CNCs include a live tooling option that lets the operation be observed in real-time.


  • You’ll get the machined product from your CNC machine only after turning is finished.


#5. What are the different types of CNC turning centers?

Although you can customize CNC turning centers, numerous types of common CNC turning centers are always available for purchase.


  • Standard CNC lathe with two Axes: The fundamental turning machine, which performs typical functions.


  • CNC lathe with three axes: Similar to the conventional one, but with milling capabilities and an additional axis.


  • Multi-spindle/dual turret machine: These machines include two spindles (equal or one main and one sub) and two turrets to save machining time.


  • Lathe chucking: This CNC turning machine is used for the second operation turning and does not have a tailstock. It is considered a smaller variant of the standard one.


  • CNC flatbed lathe: It has a detachable gap for bigger turning diameters.


It is critical to carefully select the type of CNC turning center based on the type and size of components you want to manufacture.

#6. What are the applications of a CNC turning machine?

CNC turning machines

There are several uses for CNC turning in the current world. As long as the metal is needed to adhere to some degree of the circular round shape, it is always a procedure used in every metal-cutting setting. That is true for components containing some sort of gear.


In fact, CNC conversion on a large scale is evident in the automobile sector, aerospace, construction, agricultural, military, and water vessels, among other industries.


Parts of household and business equipment are produced using the CNC turning method.

#7. What is the machining process for CNC lathe?

The primary function of CNC turning machines is to remove material from a workpiece in order to generate high-precision components.


The general principle of turning is to hold a workpiece in a chuck and rotate it while a tool is supplied to the workpiece. As a result, it produces the required form and is known as subtracting machining. The spindle is the movable section of a CNC turning center that contains the cutter and moves along the axis of the manufactured object while it is turned. 


CNC turning machines may execute the following machining operations:


  • Counter Turning: In the turned section, a contoured shape is formed.


  • Taper Turning: Creating a conical or tapered cylinder form.


  • Facing: Creating a flat surface on the workpiece’s face.


  • Chamfering: Creating a “chamfer” by cutting an angle in the cylinder.


  • Turning the form: Inserting a tool radially into a workpiece.


  • Boring: Feeding a single-point tool linearly on the inner diameter of a workpiece’s existing hole.


  • Reaming and drilling: Feeding a drill/reamer along the axis of a spinning workpiece.


  • Grooving/Cutting off: Feeding a toll radially to a spinning workpiece to groove or chop off a part’s end (parting).


  • Threading: Feeding a pointed tool parallel to the axis over the outer surface of a spinning workpiece.


  • Knurling: Creating a regular cross-hatched pattern on the surface of the workpiece.


A CNC turning center is a very adaptable piece of machinery that can perform various operations to shape the material into a predefined product.

#8. How much does a CNC lathe machine cost?

It is clear from the preceding statements that CNC turning machines are quite adaptable.


A new CNC turning machine can cost anything from $30k for a basic 2-axis lathe to $500k for a multi-axis, multi-spindle, multi-turret turning machine with a robot. The following is a summary of the key factors that affect the cost of a CNC turning machine.


  • The machine’s size.


  • The machine’s weight.


  • Number of axes.


  • Speed support, including RPM, maximum fast mode traverses, and tool change time.


  • Servo motor size and power, as well as spindle torque.


  • Manufacturing country.


  • Additional alternatives (pallet pool, bar feeder, coolant pressure, tool changer, and others).


When selecting your CNC turn key machines and related control packages, it is best to focus on your manufacturing requirements. 

Wrapping it up

CNC turning centers are the second most common piece of machinery used for shaping workpieces into completed components (after CNC milling centers). They are adaptable, and their functionality may be enhanced by various changes, making such machines a one-stop shop for some producers.


The average cost of a CNC turning center is $70k; however, this varies greatly depending on the features required.


That’s all for this article, folks! We hope you liked our take on CNC turning machines, and it did aid you in expanding your knowledge and thoughts about CNC machining.


Have any doubts or queries?


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