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What Is a Screw Machine?

Screw machines — also called turning centers or automatic lathes — were invented in 1861. Joseph R. Brown, the inventor, wanted to cut spirals from metals and manufacture the same part many times. Today, automatic screw machines create small parts for various industries.

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What Is an Automatic Screw Machine?

An automatic screw machine is a metalworking lathe that machines hard materials into designed components using turning, lathing and cutting techniques. Screw machines produce a high volume of parts for a low cost since they can create duplicate parts using computer numerical control (CNC) technology.

Screw machines are made of cams and a hollow spindle. The operator feeds a cylindrical rod of feedstock into the machine. This feedstock can be various types of metals and alloyed metals, including:

  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Carbon steel
  • Copper
  • Stainless steel

The CNC screw machine chips at the material to manufacture components such as:

  • Bolts
  • Screws
  • Studs
  • Fasteners
  • Threaded components

These fasteners have various uses in:

  • Automotive assembly
  • Electronic component assembly
  • Appliance assembly
  • Heavy machinery
  • Medical and dental instruments
 
 

How Does a Screw Machine Work?

Screw machines make fasteners by mounting the feedstock a couple different ways, depending on the machine type:

  • Rotary slide: The operator mounts the feedstock onto the rotary slide. This slide turns so the screw machine can make the specified cuts. Instead of moving the tools, these machines move the feedstock against them axially, creating features on its length.
  • Vertical ram: The operator fits the feedstock onto a vertical ram, which works into a lathe. The machine clamps onto the feedstock so the tools can work on the feedstock at any angle. When the fastener is finished, the machine unclamps it to release this finished component.

Different Types of Screw Machines

The two types of screw machines are:

  • Swiss: Swiss screw machines mount the feedstock on a rotary slide.
  • Turret: Turret screw machines mount the feedstock onto a vertical ram.

Swiss screw machines can be further broken down into two types:

  • Automatic: An automatic screw machine uses a disc cam to rotate the tools. The collet holds the feedstock as the disc cams move the tools. The tools alter the feedstock and turn its position to keep the component consistent. The collets are close together to prevent debris buildup.
  • CNC: CNC screw machines are controlled by a CNC unit, which tells the tools what to do to make the fastener. Since these machines have more tooling, they can complete several tasks on the same feedstock in a shorter amount of time. They are known for their precision and cost savings for large projects.

Turret screw machines produce similar results to the Swiss machines with fewer tooling fixtures. Most turret machines have a transfer attachment to move the fasteners to another machine for any secondary operations.

Contact R.R.I.C. Associates for a Free Quote Today

If you're interested in purchasing an automatic screw machine, shop the selection at R.R.I.C. Our inventory includes Acme Gridley screw machines and options from other brands. These screw machines can precision machine fasteners from plastics, castings, stainless steel and more. Learn more about our CNC screw machine inventory by contacting us online.

 
View Our Acme Inventory Here