5 Axis CNC lathes have both turning and milling operations in one CNC machine. Full turning and machining capabilities allow a machinist to finish a manufactured part in one operation. This results in less handling of parts and shorter cycle times.
The 5 Axis CNC lathe is different from a 5 Axis CNC mill. The 5 axis lathe is a combination of both turning and milling machining process. Think of the 5 axis CNC lathe first as a turning center and next, a milling center. These machines are highly sophisticated and can complete a large variety of parts.A typical 5 Axis CNC lathe process will start with turning the part initially and then finishing milling operations both on and off centerline before completing the most complicated Y Axis movements. A 5 axis mill has its workpiece on a table instead of in a spindle. In milling, frequently both the table and tool move. A true 5 axis mill does not turn the workpiece first.
There are many reasons why machine shops are replacing 2 and 3 axis lathes with 5 axis CNC lathes. Here are a few of the top reasons machine shop owners say drive their business decision to add or replace older machines with 5 axis CNC lathes:
It saves time: Time is money in machining. The business case can be made for replacing standard lathes with 5 axis lathes when parts are requiring secondary machining operations after coming off the lathe. It typically takes a fraction of the time to tool up and program to make a part complete on a 5-axis lathe as compared to handling each part repeatedly for other operations without it. Both setup and runtime for complex parts are faster on 5 axis CNC lathes than on simpler lathes.
Very complex parts can be made: When you buy a 5 axis CNC lathe, you are adding to the complexity of parts that you can make. Some shops like taking on jobs turned down by others. If your company loves to learn from every challenge and become better and better with every job, this strategy can pay great dividends. 5 axis CNC lathes are great for complex work and shorter running jobs. Your 5 axis CNC lathe can be flexible, precise and adaptable for the challenges.