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What Is a CNC Lathe Machine?

A computer numerical control (CNC) machine is an electromechanical device that manipulates a tool around an axis with detailed precision based on a computer-generated code, also known as a G-code. The CNC machine takes stock materials of all kinds — whether aluminum, steel, titanium or even plastic — to create a part, relying on a specific G-Code created by an operator. 

Digital tool libraries enable CNC machines to switch tools on-demand, effectively making them manufacturing powerhouses. They're great for a wide variety of industries, from automotive to shipbuilding and most industries in between. CNC machines are increasingly common staples in manufacturing tool belts, especially now with fully automated features.

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What Is a Lathe?

A lathe is one of the many tools in a CNC machine's digital library. A CNC lathe works opposite a CNC drill, which uses a moving drill bit to cut or take away materials. In contrast, lathes spin a piece of stock material against a stationary cutter in a circular motion to remove material. Chucks clamp down the material with jaws, and the lathe rotates on a spindle to cut away material as it is tilted and rotated on an axis.

Lathes are excellent for objects that require a precise, symmetrical line across a cylindrical surface. They can create square holes or other non-circular shapes. A lathe's directional capabilities boil down to the number of axes it has. 

What Are the Different Types of CNC Lathes?

The number of axes determines the CNC lathe's freedom in range of motion. A standard CNC lathe will move on one or two axes — the Z and X. The more axes your lathe has, the more complex the specifications and operations can be.

  • 2-axis: The most basic form of a CNC lathe is a 2-axis lathe. A 2-axis lathe is great for cylindrical machining, drilling and tapping. The X-axis moves left to right, while the Z-axis operates up and down. 
  • 3-axis: A 3-axis lathe is more versatile, incorporating the X-, Z- and Y-axes. The Y-axis moves back and forth — toward or away from the front of the lathe. 
  • 4-axis: A 4-axis lathe incorporates the X-, Y- and Z-axes but has an additional axis of movement — the A-axis. The A-axis rotates the mounted stock material in a circular, 180-degree motion, enabling the lathe to reach the stock on all sides. 
  • 5-axis: The capabilities of a 5-axis lathe are nearly endless. You can move a 5-axis lathe on the X-, Y-, and Z-axes and two additional rotational axes. The additional rotational axis rotates the entire cluster of material around similarly to the 180 degrees but on its side — or, rather than a horizontal rotation, it's a vertical rotation. You can hit five different sides of a material with a 5-axis lathe.

Used CNC Lathe For Sale — Shop Our Selection 

As with any tool selection, the CNC lathe you choose will depend on the job, the required rotations per minute (RPM), necessary motor power and much more! At R.R.I.C. Associates, we work with all of our customers to find the right machine to meet your demands and needs. All of our used CNC lathe machines are of exceptional quality and can facilitate multiple spindles.

If you're not sure what kind of lathe will work best, our team of experienced professionals is happy to help. Contact us today and we'll walk you through selecting the right CNC lathe for you.

 
 
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