Nothing beats an automated workshop equipped with a CNC lathe machine or conversion kit
Having your machine shop CNC-capable with a fully-fledged CNC lathe machine or a conversion kit has become a prerequisite. And that’s for good since you can’t achieve precision machining and high efficiency on a manual lathe.
You see, as a machinist looking to scale your business, your biggest worry could be accuracy in manual workpiece production. That’s because no matter how seasoned or skillful a machine operator you’re, the limitations of a manual lathe will bog you down.
Not to forget, CNC lathe machines have become a phenomenon even among small hobby workshops, which means your competitors are just about everywhere.
So a CNC lathe machine is your one-stop solution not only to keep your business relevant but also to grow it exponentially.
Even if the upfront cost of CNC is a concern, you can still have CNC capability thanks to the readily available conversion kits. In fact, you can buy high-performance manual lathes along with a CNC conversion kit to have a cost-effective CNC machine.
Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
But, you may find choosing a CNC lathe or its conversion kit tricky since there are so many options on the market. Also, you never know which manufacturer or product you can trust for reliable performance.
Nevertheless, you can rest easy as we have compiled here the best CNC lathes and conversion kits to modernize your machine shop. So, let’s have a look.
#1. Grizzly G9972Z benchtop lathe and CNC conversion kit
If you think that CNC-capable machining can cost you a fortune, then you haven’t come across this lathe machine and its conversion kit yet.
The Grizzly G9972Z benchtop lathe is a mid-sized machine ideal for small to medium-sized workshops and hobby machinists. So if you’re looking for a lathe machine that you can use for tasks like woodworking, shaping, etc., it has got you covered.
Surprising as it may sound, the Grizzly G9972Z outperforms most professional metal lathes despite being a beginner machine.
Even though this lathe machine is manually controlled, you can easily turn it into a CNC lathe using its conversion kit. That’s because the Grizzly G9972Z conversion kit is one of the most DIY-friendly kits.
What makes this package a truly DIY CNC lathe kit is its simple-to-use features and a detailed user guide which lets just about anyone convert the machine.
The lathes and CNC conversion kits from Grizzly include everything that you need. So, from ball screws and nuts to stepper motor mounts to bearings to shaft connectors to mounting hardware, you’ll find them all included in the package.
Now, talking about its machining capabilities, a Grizzly G9972Z CNC lathe comes with a 6-speed feature between 150-2400 RPM. Also, the RPM feed is pre-programmable, which you can set as per your workpiece requirements.
And here’s the best thing about this lathe machine CNC conversion package:
While any beginner-grade CNC lathe can cost you upward of $30,000, you can have a Grizzly G9972Z CNC lathe for less than a third of that quote.
It can’t get more cost-effective, can it?
#2. Sherline 17″ CNC lathe and conversion kit
Are you a hobbyist looking for a CNC lathe machine ideal for your needs?
If yes, you’re at the right place, as the Sherline 17″ CNC lathe and conversion kit have got you covered.
Even as Sherline manufactures an 8″ lathe, the 17″ machine will let you easily work on even large-sized workpieces.
You see, while you may not need the extra length too often as a hobby machinist, having an extra capability always makes sense. More so when there isn’t much price difference between Sherline 8″ and 17″ lathe machines.
The best thing about Sherline CNC lathes is the customization options they offer you, which also hold for this machine. The Sherline 17″ lathe, in particular, lets you choose the stepper motor and driver as per your precise requirement.
There’s more to this amazing CNC lathe.
Just like its Grizzly counterpart, the Sherline 17″ lathe is also DIY-friendly, which means if you’re a DIY person, this is yet another ideal choice for you. All you need for your DIY project is to purchase this CNC-ready lathe along with its CNC conversion kit.
Also, this machine is packed with features like rigidity, sturdiness, and mobility, which is a hard bargain among most lathes.
But what about its machining capabilities, you may ask?
Sherline provides a 60-watt motor with a variable speed between 70 and 2800 RPM along with the lathe. And this motor can generate enough torque for all small to medium-range turning operations.
There you have it, the best hobby CNC lathe and conversion kit on the market.
#3. Proxxon precision benchtop lathe PD 400
If a multipurpose CNC lathe or conversion kit that can enable metal machining is your go-to choice, then the Proxxon precision lathe PD 400 is something you should definitely consider.
Proxxon is a renowned German lathe manufacturing company, and its Precision lathe PD 400 is a heavy-duty and high-accuracy medium-sized machine.
The machine weighs 100 lbs and has a diameter of 35.4″ x 15.8″ x 11.8″, which makes it simple to install. So much so that you can easily place it on the work table by yourself and start machining workpieces.
You may wonder what makes this lathe capable of turning metals.
The answer lies in the sturdy construction of the machine itself, which suppresses vibrations, thus allowing you to machine metals.
This benchtop CNC lathe features a six-speed drive system ranging from 80 RPM right up to 2800 RPM. So, whatever your required application is, this machine has an ideal speed range for it.
Also, since this lathe is powered by a 550-watt motor, you’ll have enough torque for just about any operation, be it turning, thread cutting, or milling.
Further, you can conveniently machine workpieces up to 15.75 inches in length and 4.56 inches in diameter. And as an additional advantage, the rotating tailstock ensures a smooth operation.
Impressive, isn’t it?
#4. Grizzly G0084 CNC lathe
Is there an affordable CNC lathe or conversion kit that you can use for heavy machining?
If you’re looking for a cost-efficient lathe for a large-scale workshop, then the Grizzly G0084 CNC lathe is your one-stop solution. That’s because this lathe offers industrial-grade machining speed and quality and is apt for machine shops of all sizes, from small to large.
In fact, if you need a lathe machine capable of operating multiple tools in quick succession, then one is worth considering.
The Grizzly G0084 CNC lathe machine is sized 67″ x 75″ and can perfectly accommodate workpieces up to 27 inches in length and 13 inches in diameter. So, even if you have large workpieces to machine, you can rest easy as they’ll fit in the lathe.
The lathe has a 4 hp motor to drive the spindle and can run between a speed range of 30 RPM and 4000 RPM. That means you can easily use it for an extensive range of machining requirements.
Since this is a heavy-build lathe with a weight of close to 3100 lbs, it offers you high tolerance levels and, thus, low vibration. And a feed rate of 300 inches for every minute means that you’ll be able to cut workpieces faster, reducing the cycle time.
The best thing is that this high-end CNC lathe is made in the US and has a technical support team based in the country.
Grizzly provides a 14-gallon coolant tank with its G0084 CNC lathe, which ensures that you can have long hours of uninterrupted operations. Also, the lathe has an enclosed working area which enhances user safety while keeping the work area clean.
#5. TAIG 4029 CNC lathe
Among all CNC lathes and CNC conversion kits on the market, this lathe has the most user-friendly CNC software.
Featuring Mach3 CNC software, the TAIG 4029 lathe is a highly reliable machine for small workshops and hobby machinists.
Since Mach3 is one of the simplest to use CNC software, you need not learn programs like CAD/CAM.
Even as TAIG still offers an earlier version of this lathe, i.e., the 4019 lathe, the TAIG 4029 fares better thanks to its 5C headstock.
You see, the 5C headstocks have a way larger diameter, which allows them to firmly grip your workpiece all around. And that brings about high accuracy in operations since the workpiece is held firm.
On the contrary, a traditional jaw chuck holds your parts only at three or four points, thus affecting the accuracy.
In terms of safety, the TAIG 4029 CNC lathe is equipped with a chip guard and emergency stop switch, making the machine safe to use.
However, there are a few limitations in the lathe which might prevent you from machining large parts or having quick production.
For instance, the TAIG 4029 lathe has a speed limit of 1800 RPM, which increases manufacturing time and limits the materials you can machine. And since the machine is lightweight, you can expect vibrations at a higher speed.
Also, the lathe lacks a tailstock, so you can expect instability and stress when working on large-sized workpieces.
Nonetheless, this one is an excellent option for an entry-level CNC lathe and a user-friendly lathe.
#6. Tormach 8L CNC lathe machine
If there is one machine among all CNC lathes and lathe conversion kits that bring about all-inclusive machining, it’s the Tormach 8L.
A yet another made-in-America lathe, the Tormach 8L is a compact but highly capable machine sizing 50″ x 26″.
What underscores its performance capability is the fact that you can perform turning, grooving, facing, and boring operations all on one machine. Together with the high precision of the machine, it will even let you produce wide-ranging and top-notch prototypes.
The Tormach 8L CNC lathe features a 1.5 hp spindle and has high variable speeds between 100 RPM and 500 RPM. Also, the lathe has a sturdy build quality and an 838 lbs weight. And coupled with the variable speeds, this sturdy construct lets you cut anything from soft materials like wood to hard materials like titanium.
So how large a workpiece can this CNC lathe handle?
With a Tormach 8L lathe, you can machine up to 16 inches in length and 8 inches in diameter, which is remarkable for a compact-sized machine.
Further, since the machine can work on a 115 V single-phase AC supply, you can easily use one for hobby machining in your home. All you’ll need to do is hook the lathe to an electrical socket in your home, and you can have your lathe running.
You may well wonder if the lathe is safe to use in your home or your workshop, for that matter. And to that end, you can rest assured as a safety enclosure comes as standard for all Tormach lathe packages.
#7. Haas Toolroom lathe TL-1-EDU
As a counterpart to Grizzly G0084, the Hass toolroom lathe is another excellent industrial-grade lathe machine.
Haas already has a reputation across the country as a high-quality manufacturer and exceptional after-sales services provider. And their toolroom lathe TL-1-EDU stands true to its fame, apart from being the most affordable industrial CNC lathe.
In fact, if you need a high-precision and heavy-duty CNC lathe that offers great customization options, too, then this machine is worth considering. That’s because from spindle type to chuck size to spindle RPM to a turret type, you can install custom parts as per your exact requirements.
In terms of workpiece size, the toolroom CNC lathe can handle parts up to a diameter of 8 inches and a length of 30 inches. Also, you can machine both soft and hard materials, which makes this lathe unique among CNC lathes and lathe conversion kits in this category.
Now, coming to operation, the lathe is easy to use and doesn’t need G-code for programming. Meaning, even if you’re a beginner at CNC, you can easily use this machine.
Talking about machining efficiency, Haas provides a coolant and chip removal system in their machines, including the toolroom CNC lathe, for highly efficient operations.
There it is, another cost-effective yet sturdy American lathe.
The final word
While there are endless choices for CNC lathes and lathe conversion kits on the market, choosing the right one is never so easy. That’s so since machining capabilities and cost are some factors that you’re most likely to consider for your lathe.
Nevertheless, you should also keep in mind your precise requirements and go for a CNC lathe that meets them all. You see, every workshop and machinist has a different requirement altogether, meaning you can’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach.
And not to forget, the longevity and sturdiness of a do dictate the choice. After all, you want your lathe to last for a long time, don’t you?
If you’re looking for your ideal lathe and CNC lathe conversion kit, you can reach out to us. We have top-of-the-line lathes from leading manufacturers like Grizzly and Shop Fox at the most cost-efficient prices. And we can deliver your ideal lathe to your workshop for free.