Buying a Used CNC Lathe
What is the difference between a CNC Lathe and a CNC Mill?
Any CNC lathe with 3 or more axes is a combination of both turning and milling machining processes. Think of the CNC lathe as first a turning center, and then a milling center. These machines are sophisticated and can make a large variety of parts. A typical 5-Axis CNC lathe process will start with turning the part, then mill both on and off centerline and end with the most complicated Y-Axis movements. In comparison, a 5-axis mill has its workpiece on a moving table instead of in a spindle.
Narrowing Your Used CNC Lathe Selection
So, how do you narrow down the type of used CNC lathes to purchase? Youll want to think about part complexity, part mix, and the average number of parts to be run per setup. The top CNC lathe brands we see in the market today are Haas, Mazak, DMG, Doosan, Star, Citizen, Tsugami, and Okuma.
- Part Complexity: Consider the number of tool pockets available the more stations, the more complexity in one setup. DMG Mori has lathes with between 80 and 239 tool pockets in their newest machines. Some lathes have tool holders on both a turret and in a magazine.
- Primary Industry: Different industries have different demands for torque, speed and precision. For example, medical devices frequently require smaller, high-precision parts. Youll want to compare 5-axis CNC lathes to CNC Swiss screw machining equipment and find the best fit. Aerospace demands difficult-to-machine materials and many large parts. For aerospace parts, you need a used CNC lathe designed for tough turning with a larger spindle and travel capability.
- Machine Size: What is your maximum part size, and minimum part size, and what floor space do you have? What is the turning diameter, length, X, Y and Z travel, as well as B and C axis travel in degrees? Are the materials hard to machine? Answering these questions will help you select the right used CNC lathe.
- Average Job Lot Size: Is your shop producing hundreds of thousands of the same parts each year? You should consider buying a dedicated used CNC machine just for that part. Look for a CNC lathe that would have the optimal cycle time and could be a part of a complete machining cell. However, if you expect to run short runs, a more versatile used CNC lathe would be a better option.