CNC Turning Centers can be found in two forms: CNC DIY (in house) and CNC Industrial. Which type is best for your business will depend on what type of part you need to manufacture, the cost of materials you have on hand, your current overhead expenses, the amount of available space at your production facility, and other factors. The following is a brief summary of each type of CNC turning center.
DIY CNC turning centers are designed to be used by amateurs, who have no experience with industrial machinery. They are cheaper to purchase because they are designed to do less, therefore producing fewer parts per hour. Although CNC lathes can produce the same amount of quality as a professional machine, a CNC turning machine is designed to do it faster. Because CNC Turning Centers runs on less energy, their running costs are lower. In addition, CNC lathes can often be operated by someone who has little to no experience with industrial machinery. This is because the CNC turning center does not require an operator, so all of the operator’s time is spent on actual turning rather than monitoring the machine.
A CNC turning center consists of two primary pieces: the CNC lathe itself, and the CNC turning machine. The lathe is the part that will hold the workpiece while it is being turned; therefore it needs to be lightweight and durable enough to withstand the stresses of high speed turning. CNC turning centers usually contain a power turret, which controls the movement of the lathe along the line of sight to the work. Each turn of the tool turret corresponds to a corresponding move of the spindle and the workpiece, which allow the user to precisely create the desired angle, surface profile, or distance.
The CNC turning centers come in many varieties. Most of these lathes have fixed spindles that spin at one fixed speed, but some may have variable spindles that allow them to spin at different speeds. Some have only one axis of rotation, while others may have two or more axes. Some lathes also have a feature known as “motor” which is used to determine how much millimeter/minute the spindle moves per minute. These motors are usually electronically operated, but in some cases manual operations can be used as well.
A CNC turning center can accept a variety of different types of material for the spindle and workpiece. One popular material used is ceramic, which is popular because of its ability to remain stiff during processing. Other popular materials used in CNC turning centers include graphite, which is a very hard and wear resistant material, metal, which offers a higher degree of resistance to wear than most ceramics do, aluminum, which has a spindle with fewer parts and a smaller footprint than other materials, and titanium, which offers a lightweight construction and durable finish. CNC turning centers can also accept other types of hardware including pinion, V-groove and other type of cam-and-rod mechanism, as well as other types of accessories such as computerized tooling and die sets. This variety of equipment allows the operator to design and create exact works of art from very basic starting points.
Most turning centers incorporate computer-controlled tooling. In this manner the operator will program a series of operations to form the desired end product. For example, if a user wants to produce a brass pole, then programs specifying the diameter, material and length of the pole will be loaded into the CNC lathe. Once these operations are programmed, the operator places the workpiece into the CNC turning center and manually controls the diameter, length and other characteristics of the brass pole over the course of the lathe’s operation. Then, when the desired pole is completed, the user manually turns it in the opposite direction to get a different sized piece of brass. The CNC turning center can program operations in any direction as long as the user is holding the control key down at any given time.