As machinists we apply our skill, knowledge and experience to produce the best looking and most accurate parts that we can. We take a great deal of pride in the products that we produce, and we want others to see that pride in the finished product. But what do we do when we aren’t getting the results that we want? When dimensionally the parts meet blueprint specifications, but the surface finish and overall appearance is less than desirable? When this happens we need to go back the basics and ensure that we are using the best machining practices that we know to be correct.
Posts about Lathe Tooling:
In the last article we discussed the questions that you should be asking yourself when buying a CNC lathe, and we discussed some of the common terminology associated with CNC turning. In this article I would like to build on the topic of purchasing considerations, and want to discuss the ins and outs of the two main bed designs – the true slant bed and the flatbed “flying wedge” configurations.
When purchasing a CNC lathe, there are several questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin the process. Some of these questions will be quite obvious: How much axis travel do I need? What size chuck should I look for? How many tool stations are on the turret? What is the spindle bore size? Etc... However, there are other specifications that are just as important, but not always so obvious: What is the maximum swing distance that my work will require? What is the maximum turning diameter necessary for my family of parts? What kind of spindle horsepower and torque will my type of work consume? The first set of questions above is relatively easy to answer, but the second group requires a better understanding of lathes in general.
A few months ago I published a two-part series on the basics of mill-turn technology, where I covered topics such as: axis configurations, the orientation of live tooling holders, mill-turn terminology, instances when a Y-axis might be necessary, etc… In today’s article I want to discuss the differences between the driven tool mounting configurations, and offer my opinions on the benefits and challenges associated with each one.
As machinists we are all aware of the standard tools of our trade; however, there are other non-standard tools available - that not everyone is aware of - that could be very helpful in our day-to-day life in the shop. Just like any other industry, if there is a time consuming and mundane procedure that must be completed, you can bet that somewhere there is someone who has already invented a tool or device that would make that task easier…if we only knew where to go to find those tools.
In the last blog article we touched on the basics of mill-turning technology. Today I would like to build on that basic foundation. One area of confusion to many operators is tooling – especially the tool holder orientation descriptions (radial tools vs. axial tools). Hopefully we can clear that up a little bit for some of you who struggle with it. I would also like to discuss the use of different tooling options to conserve turret stations when running parts that have lots of features and cutting operations. Machining intricate parts without running out of tooling stations is a common struggle when creating parts on a mill-turn machine.
On a pretty regular basis I am asked to explain something pertaining to live tool machining on a lathe - or Mill-Turn as it is commonly referred to in the industry. Even people with a CNC turning background are sometimes a little confused and can find their understanding a bit cloudy…especially in the areas of tooling, and when the use of an additional Y-axis is necessary. In this article I will try to shine some light on the basics of live tool machining, and the application of the optional Y-axis. In a future article, I will discuss tooling, toolholders, tool orientations, and the differences between VDI and BMT turrets.