Are you looking for a new cnc lathe machine? Well there are tons of different types of cnc lathe machines out there. A good cnc lathe machine can be expensive and a huge investment. This is why I have created this guide for you to let you know what to look for in a cnc lathe and what the best lathes are. So read on to get the right machine for you.
About the cnc lathe – What is a cnc lathe machine?
Cnc (Computer numerical controlled) lathes are becoming the newer lathes seen on many different workshop floors around the world. This is because they are much easier to set and operate as well as maintain accuracy over a large batch of repeated work.
A cad file is created of the product in 3d. This is then transferred to the cnc machine where it creates paths in a virtual environment. This is then taken and the paths create an object from the material on the lathe.
Sometimes operating the cnc machine lathe requires a lot of cnc machine training in order to operate things correctly. There are some cnc training schools and cnc training software out there to help people become a proficient cnc operator.
Many new cnc lathes are designed to use modern carbide tooling and to be integrated with the latest CAD/CAM program files that are usually exported to use for cnc production.
Different aspects of the cnc lathe
There are many different manufacturers out there that make cnc lathes. Because of this, there are many different designs for a cnc lathe mill, but a lot have common elements.
The turret holds the cnc lathe tool holders and keeps them indexed as needed.
Spindle – cnc lathe small or large?
The spindle is attached to the headstock and holds the material in place. Check the size of this to see how big your projects can be with the lathe in question. You will need to think what size you will need here. Are you looking for a small cnc lathe or a larger scale lathe for manufacture of larger items?
Because of the automated nature of cnc lathes and their fast manufacturing speeds, cnc lathes tend to have enclosures. This helps stop any material from flying out of the machine and hurting people close to the machine. A lot of manufacturers offer this for an extra charge when buying a new cnc lathe.
User interface – What to look for and handy tips
Picking a good user interface is key. You will need to make sure that the software will be compatible with common exports from other cad/cam programs.
File formats such as .iges and .stl are common file formats used for cnc production, so make sure these files can easily be imported. To keep things cheap, you can get free Linux based operating systems such as Ubuntu and use open source cnc software such as FreeCAD and free programs that translate G-code to .dxf files.
You will need both good cad software as well as good cam software. Cad software generates the 3d model, while cam software creates the necessary toolpaths and generates any necessary g-code.
You will also need contoller software. The controller software interprets the g-code and runs the motors on the machine to create the toolpaths in reality.
Check to see how easy these programs are to use and what kind of training is necessary. Some manufacturers offer training with their machines, but that means buying a new machine which cuts you out from buying a cheaper, used cnc lathe machine. Of course, going with free software as mentioned above will help.
Also try and look for software that is not only easy to use, but easy to upgrade. Upgrading every year to a new version can also add up on cost very fast.
Some of the more expensive and popular 3d programs used for 3d design include Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD 3D, SolidWorks, Catia and Rhino.
Cnc lathe tooling for your cnc tool room lathe
You will need the right cutting tooling. Each machine is different, so it is best to consult with the manufacturer to see which cnc lathe tool you will need to go with your machine. Having a good clamping system to hold the material in way of the spindle is important.
Best cnc lathe machine
There are many different types of cnc lathe for sale out there. The best lathe really depends on your own individual project needs. I would say it is best to look at the top brands first, then drill down from there to find the features and the type of lathe that will bes suit your project specifications. There aren’t that many options out there, but these machines from Bolton are my top picks:
The above two machines come with some solid features and are available from Amazon, which makes them come fro ma reliable seller. Of course, it always depends on what your individual project requires. Look for a cnc lathe machine that is going to get your jo done right and do not settle for anything else. Another option is to look at used cnc lathes as well to save on money.