Lathes are machine tools which can take a piece of material and perform various functions on it including drilling and sanding. They can be used on wood, metal and glass. While they are generally relatively small, there are also large industrial machine lathes which can handle greater workloads. There also combination lathes which can perform a variety of additional functions. They are versatile pieces of kit, and thanks to Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) technology they can now be operated from a computer rather than cumbersome, manual controls. This makes them much easier to schedule and operate, continually churning out parts with occasional supervision.
Using a computer to control a lathe means that designs and specifications can be adjusted more accurately and systematically, and means that to use a lathe and operator doesn’t necessarily have to be highly skilled or experienced with the manual controls. In the old days knowledge of individual machines was seen as essential, while CNC technology means that those with a general knowledge base can generally learn to operate almost any sort of machine tool. It’s also good news in terms of health and safety, as many machine lathes need to be enclosed for these reasons.
CNC Lathes are a great example of how technological innovation can not only herald new industrial machines, but can bring older machines up-to-date. CNC technology is a great option for manufacturers who have small budgets but high aspirations in terms of quality of work. By updating old machines with new software manufacturing can become quicker and more reliable, and ultimately more profitable. It’s easy to see why this type of technology is proving popular in the manufacturing industry.
The practise is called Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM). CAD modules on a computer provide instructions for controlling the machines electronically, meaning that operators do not have to take the time to learn the manual controls inside out. It’s a useful tool for production managers, as it allows them to more effectively monitor and forecast production. CNC Lathes are perfect for creating multiples of the same item, and can perform a range of functions. Complicated designs can be relatively easily set-up using CNC Lathe technology, and operators can expect to see a great degree of accuracy.