Understanding the Varieties and Functions of Industrial Lathes

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Lathes are vital machine tools with a wide range of applications. They are used for turning, tapping, grinding, and polishing. Learn about the variety of lathes used within the industry, ways to avoid dangers, and the parts found on most lathes.

Types of Lathes

Automatic Lathes

 Automatic lathes increase the uniformity and quality as well as the production rate and quantity. All of the manufacturing steps are completed automatically.  These high-speed, heavy-duty lathes primarily are used for mass production. 

Bench Lathes 

Palmgren 8"X12" Bench Lathe 115V 1Ph (9684508)

By contrast, bench lathes are compact and developed for precision and accuracy. They come with various attachments and can perform most of the operations that their larger counterpart can do. Bench lathes are usually mounted on cabinets or benches.  

Capstan and Turret Lathes

Difference between Capstan and Turret Lathe Machine over Engine Lathe  [Diagram] - YouTube
Source: YouTube

 These semi-automatic lathes serve a range of operations during mass production. Operators need skills only in setting the tools in the turret or capstan head. The actual operation of these lathes occurs automatically. 

Engine Lathes

JET 26x80 Geared Head Engine Lathe 4-1/8-inch Bore

This broad category of lathes is the most widely used. They were driven by a steam engine when they were first used. Even though lathes are now built with an individual motor, the name is still popular today. Engine lathes have a sturdy construction that resembles speed lathes. 

Speed Lathes 

Speed lathes earn their name from the quickness of the spindle rotation. Speed lathes have a bench design that may have supporting legs fitted to the bed. They offer most of the standard attachments but are unique because they are powered by hand. These lathes are primarily used for centering and metal spinning, polishing, and woodturning. 

Tool Room Lathe 

These lathes consist of engine lathes that have extra attachments for increased accuracy. These attachments include collets, chucks, follower rests, and ones for taper turning. The bed length of tool room lathes is smaller than in standard engine lathes. 

Special Purpose Lathes 

Besides the large categories of lathes listed above, several lathes are designed for a specific operation: 

Crankshaft Lathes

These specialized tools provide all the standard attachments. They help turn long parts such as crankshafts and engine and turbine shafts through their special design. 

 Duplicating Lathes

Shopsmith Lathe Duplicator
Source: Shopsmith

These lathes are distinctive because the tracer attachment connects to the carriage. This design is helpful in the mass production of identical parts in which a template is prepared and used.

Facing Lathes 

Large Size Floor Type Face Lathe - Buy Face Lathe,Chuck Lathe,Face Lathe  Machine Product on Alibaba.com
Source: Alibaba

This type of lathe features a carriage driven by a separate motor from the main spindle. These lathes machine the end faces of cylindrical, complex jobs.                                                                                                                            

Frontal Lathes 

FRONTAL LATHES | Maquinaria Márquez
Source: Image

Frontal lathes provide two carriages. One of each appears on both ends. These double tool heads enable the machining of two jobs at the same time. Facing lathes works well for machining short jobs.

Precision Lathes

Precision Lathe Machine at Rs 100000/unit | Precision Lathes | ID:  11796038248
Source: Image

This specialized category of lathes provides tremendous accuracy through all dimensions. Precision lathes precisely turn previously rough-turned workpieces. These lathes replace high-class grinding machines because of their dimensional accuracy. 

Production Lathes

McLean Production Lathe
Source: Image

This category is distinguished because the bed is inclined toward the end, allowing for easier chip removal. Production lathes successfully handle the mass production of cylindrical parts.

Screw Cutting Lathes

Screw cutting lathes operate on cams and cam plates. They are used for producing large quantities of screwed parts and completing precision work with screws.                                                                                                                                  

Vertical Lathes

Vertical Turning Lathe Machine at Rs 1500000/unit | Vertical Turning Lathes  | ID: 4439384712
Source: Image

This specific type of lathe features a vertical column fitted with cross and vertical slides. Vertical lathes are used for boring and turning heavy revolving parts like gear blanks and heavy flywheels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Lathes Dangerous? 

Because of the nature of their design, operating lathes hold inherent risks. However, these risks can be greatly limited by adhering to the following safety guidelines: 

  1. Always wear CSA-certified safety glasses and well-fitted clothing.
  2. Keep the area clear from slip hazards and obstructions.
  3. Know the machine well, including the location of the stop/start button and emergency stop button.
  4. Thoroughly review the job specifications before operation. Make sure the work is accurate and centered.
  5. Secure and clamp the piece to the machinery. 
  6. Use an appropriate barrier guard and guard all power transmission parts.
  7. Keep all tools sharp and in good working order.
  8. Thoroughly clean area after each use.

What are the Different Parts of a Lathe Machine?

  1. Bed. The bed serves as the central part of the lathe. The headstock, tailstock and other parts are bolted to the bed.
  2. Carriage. Positioned in the middle of the  headstock and the tailstock, the carriage contains the apron, compound rest, cross slide, saddle and tool post.
  3. Chip Pan. Located at the bottom of the lathe, the chip pan collects pieces that fly off the work during production.
  4. Feed Rod. The feed rod brings the movement of the carriage under control.
  5. Hand Wheel. Handwheels accompany lathes operated by hand to move a carriage, cross slide, and tailstocks for any that are not used automatically.
  6. Headstock. Located on the left side of the lathe, the headstock is equipped with control levers, chucks, feed controllers and spindles.

Lathes provide the foundation for many movements within industrial processes. By knowing the types and parts of lathes and the procedures for safe operation, you can knowledgeably determine the best lathes for your production goals.

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