Vertical Lathes

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Vertical Lathes



An Overview of the Vertical Lathe, CNC Turning Center and Similar Machine Tools

Vertical Lathes are Good for Heavy Large Diameter Machining



For many applications, including heavy, bulky and oddly shaped workpieces, a vertical lathe is a great choice. A vertical lathe turns the workpiece. Both CNC vertical lathes and manual Vertical Turret Lathes (VTL) are common in machine shops and educational institutions across the country. They are suitable for roughing and fine machining ferrous and non-ferrous materials. When there is a tooling turret, various types of tooling can be inserted to allow for both inner and outer cylinder cutting, cone surfacing, grooving, drilling, tapping, reaming, facing, knurling, threading and other machining processes. The more tooling slots, the more versatile the machine.

Vertical Lathe vs. CNC Turning Center



According to many machine tool builders, there is really no difference between a CNC vertical lathe and CNC turning center. However, the lathe is often used to describe simpler machines which do turning alone. A vertical lathe is a 2-axis machine that moves in the X and Y direction and typically has only one chuck.


CNC turning centers usually denote machines with integrated milling and turning capabilities. A CNC turning center with a sub-spindle can work on one side of a part, transfer it to the sub-spindle and work on the other end of the part. The complexity and speed that the machine can make parts depend on the size, power, speed, number, and type of tooling slots.

Turret for Tooling and Turrets for the Workpiece



A vertical turret lathe refers to a machine that has the workpiece as a turret but keep in mind that tooling can also be on a turret. The more planes of work, (referred to as the number of axes,) the greater the complexity of the part that can be made.

Advantage and Disadvantage of Vertical Lathes Compared to Horizontal Lathes



CNC vertical lathes take advantage of gravity which seats the workpiece. The disadvantage is the at chips can be an issue, especially for concave parts. A large diameter short part would work better on a vertical lathe and longer, smaller diameter parts tend to work better on a horizontal lathe. Top manufacturers of CNC vertical lathes include Haas, Okuma, Doosan, Mazak, and DMG Mori.