Swiss-type lathes, previously considered necessary only for the most precise and intricate part production, are seeing an increase in popularity of late. Many shops typically satisfied with multispindle, or turret, type lathes have switched some of their production over to a Swiss-type machine.
What is a Swiss-type lathe?
Machinists in Switzerland developed the Swiss-type lathe with accuracy in mind. In this, they succeeded; parts made with a Swiss-type lathe have a tolerance band of up to just a few micrometers, or .0001 inches.
The Swiss-type accomplishes this by locking in the workpiece, the metal rod that will be cut into smaller products, with a collet and a guide bushing. Rather than rotating the workpiece around to the different cutting tools within the machine, the drill bits themselves move onto and away from the machine.
Keeping the workpiece stationary on its X and Y axes, as well as in close proximity to the stabilizing guide bushing, ensures an accurate cut. The workpiece moves slightly on its Z axis, depending on how far up the piece each cut needs to be.
CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machines have increased many shops outputs, and CNC Swiss-type machines are some of the best. The ability to computer program a machine with the complex cutting potential of a Swiss-style lathe increases both productive capacity and accuracy. Many CNC Swiss-style lathes now include secondary spindles, which can pick up completed parts and run them through additional refining before ejecting the completed piece.