How Does a CNC Swiss-Type Lathe Work & Why is It Useful?

CNC Swiss Type Lathe Machine at Swiss-Tech

It seems you can’t go anywhere in the precision manufacturing industry without coming across the buzzword: Swiss machining. Its popularity has flourished in recent years as more and more fabricators are choosing to incorporate CNC Swiss-type lathe equipment into their production processes.

We’ve found that many manufacturers are curious about this ongoing trend. If this includes you, here is some proper insight into why Swiss-style lathes have become so popular and whether or not utilizing a swiss machining facility could be a smart addition within your supply-chain.

Let’s Begin: What Is a Swiss Machine? 

A CNC Swiss-type lathe is a turning center that was originally developed for the Swiss watchmaking industry in the late nineteenth century. Over time, these machines have evolved to turn out an abundance of additional complex, precision parts.

Unlike conventional CNC lathes where the part is stationary and the tool moves, a Swiss-type turning center allows the part to move in the Z-axis, while the tool is stationary.

CNC Swiss-type Lathe Diagram

As shown in the illustration above, bar stock material is turned rapidly within the machine and advanced through a guide bushing. Only the portion of bar stock being machined is exposed, which allows the material to be tightly held, virtually eliminating deflection and increasing accuracy.

Next: What are the Primary Benefits?

Offering a range of advantages and capabilities, CNC Swiss-style machines have become more widely relied upon throughout the industry due (in large part) to their versatility.

With a number of Swiss lathe manufacturers available in the marketplace, companies are also given plenty of options as to which machines best suit their production needs.

Powerful Capabilities for Precise Results

You’re likely aware that long, narrow parts relative to their width are subject to deflection

during the machining process. One of the major benefits Swiss machines can provide is the ability to manufacture parts up to a 20:1 length to width ratio.

This is achievable because the cutting is done within a few millimeters of the guide bushing that supports the bar. This method of close cutting increases the lifespan of tools, while enhancing accuracy and providing better stability.

These powerful features allow tight tolerance parts to be readily and repeatedly produced.

“The level of consistency we’re able to achieve for our customers is exceptional, and our investments in the latest precision manufacturing equipment have a lot to do with that.” – Jason Price, Director of Engineering & Support Technology at Swiss-Tech

CNC Tooling

Short Runs & Lead Times Made Simple with Unparalleled Efficiency

Swiss machining is optimal for jobs that are short-run, high-precision, and would otherwise require a number of different secondary operations.

A CNC Swiss-type lathe is capable of turning, milling, and threading to drop complex parts complete.

In contrast to a traditional CNC machine with 3 or 4 axes, Swiss machines can equip up to 13 axes. This adds significant value by reducing throughput times and labor because technicians don’t need to transfer the work in progress to another machine for completion.

Conclusion: These Are Not Your Grandfather’s Swiss Lathes

The trend of utilizing Swiss machinery continues to take the precision manufacturing world by storm. In fact, the market is set to make astonishing growth by 2025.

When comparing a CNC swiss lathe to a traditional CNC lathe, it’s clear that the Swiss-style’s  high-performing guide bushing and near zero deflection offer powerful advantages for a large number of applications. 

“Swiss machining may be widely known for its ability to produce ultra-precision screws, but technological advancements in Swiss lathe programming allow us to handle more complex machined components out of a variety of materials.

Although the components we make can vary greatly, we have customers throughout the medical technology, aerospace, and high-end industrial markets all experiencing the same level of world-class quality.” – Frank Meiland, President at Swiss-Tech

Producing highly engineered plastic and metal parts is the essence of what we do at Swiss-Tech. If you’d like to learn more about our distinct capabilities or are interested in scheduling a facility tour, request a quote today or give us a call at 262-728-6363.

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