A lathe is a material removing machine tool used to remove unwanted material from the workpiece.
Lathes are mainly used to produce cylindrical surfaces and plane surfaces at right angles to the axis of rotation.
Lathes can also produce sharp objects. Lathes are generally used to produce most of the round solids, plane surfaces, screw threads, etc.
There are many types of lathes that have been developed. In this article, we will explain about 4 lathes that are widely used by industry:
1. The Speed Lathe
A speed lathe is a type of lathe used in simple construction. This lathe has an adjustable and slide mounted bed, headstock, tailstock and tool post.
There are no screws or feed box carriage on this lathe. The toolkit is mounted on an adjustable slide and put into pure work and controlled manually (by hand).
The speed of this lathe ranges from 1200 to 3600 rpm. The headstock construction is very simple and only has 2 or 3 available spindle speeds.
The depth of cut of the speed lathe is less than that of other lathes. The light strength and high speed of this lathe make it ideal for woodworking, spinning, centering and polishing.
This machine is called a speed lathe because it has a very high speed on the spindle headstock.
2. The Turret Lathe
Turret lathes are another name for rolling lathes, and are used to duplicate high-volume parts. The various operations performed by a turret lathe are turning, turning, reaming and drilling.
This lathe has a hexagonal turret mounted on the saddle and not on the tailstock. On the hexagonal tower, various tools can be fixed and produce multiple operations on the workpiece.
After each operation, the turret is rotated and this will lead to the mass production of interchangeable parts using a single machine.
Turret lathes are ideal for sequential operations to be performed on the workpiece. Using a single machine on a lathe for multiple operations can save time and minimize errors.
This lathe is highly effective for mass production of a large number of parts and is an enhanced version of the engine lathe.
In addition, the turret lathe has three tool posts but requires a large floor space when compared to other lathes.
These lathes are generally used for large jobs and another advantage of using this lathe is that it can be operated by less experienced operators.
3. The Engine Lathe
Engine lathes are the most widely used lathes in industry. This lathe is called an engine lathe because this lathe is driven by a steam engine. In addition, the engine lathe is also driven by a gear mechanism or a pulley mechanism.
The parts of an engine lathe resemble the parts on a speed lathe, which includes the bed, headstock, tailstock etc. The headstock on engine lathes has a rigid construction and an additional mechanism to provide multiple spindle speeds.
The thing that distinguishes a speed lathe from an engine lathe is the tool post. At the tool post the engine lathe can be fed in a transverse or longitudinal direction with reference to the lathe axis with the help of carriage and leadcrew feeds. This type of lathe is still used in workshops and in many industries.
Lathe engines can be classified into 3 types including:
The Belt Drive Lathe
A belt drive lathe is a lathe whose power comes from an air duct shaft and is driven by a belt and is equipped with a cone and one or more rear gears for varying spindle speeds.
The Motor Driven Lathe
A motor driven lathe is a lathe that receives power from an individual motor integrated with the machine.
The Geared-Head Lathe
A geared-head lathe is a lathe with gears, the power of which comes from a constant-speed motor, and the change of all speeds is obtained by shifting the various gears located on the headstock. This lathe does not have a cone pulley.
4. The CNC Lathe
CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control, which means that this lathe is controlled by a computer and provides high accuracy in a short time.
The components of a CNC lathe have the same components as a manual lathe in general, but on this lathe there is an additional important component in the form of a CNC control panel. The CNC control panel will provide input instructions for executing the program. This lathe is widely used in aerospace, automotive, etc.
CNC lathes are a modern form of lathe in general. These lathes are generally used for mass production as well as turret lathes.
However, the turret lathe does not have a programming system. Components manufactured by CNC lathes have a very high level of accuracy in terms of dimensional tolerances.