Operated with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems and provided with precise design instructions, CNC Lathes are machine tools where the material or part is clamped and rotated by the main spindle, while the cutting tool that work on the material, is mounted and moved in various axis.
CNC Lathes are normally used for machining parts, where the material / part is clamped and rotated whereas the cutting tool is stationery mounted for OD (Outer Diameter) and ID (Inner Diameter) operations, e.g. shafts and pipes. They are ideal for parts that have same symmetry around an axis that could be chucked up (i.e. radially clamped) in the spindle.
A simple CNC Lathe operates on 2-axis and the tool is in a fixed position at 8 to 24 station turret. The rotating action of the part is called “turning”, hence certain types of CNC Lathes are called CNC Turning Machines.
Lathe machines with additional options such as Y-axis, sub-spindles, or specific selected options for automation are commonly called Turning Centres. These sophisticated machine tools are capable of machining complex parts – these go beyond standard OD & ID turning operations and may incorporate milling, drilling and tapping operations to complete the part in one setting. Taking a piece from raw part to finished product, such all-in-one machine tools significantly improves productivity.