What Is a CNC Lathe Machine and What Is It Used For?

CNC lathe machines are fundamental pieces of equipment in the manufacturing industry. Everyday life is filled with pieces that came from a lathe—including dishware, furniture, construction materials and every single component of your car. Take a closer look at what a CNC lathe machine is and why so many manufacturers in Ukiah, CA have one in their arsenal.

How the lathe works

Before you can begin to understand how it works, you must first learn what a CNC lathe machine actually is. CNC lathe machines are a type of metalworking equipment that manufacturers in Ukiah, CA use for shaving material off a workpiece. The metal piece is held in a fixed position with clamps and rotates on the table that’s holding it. A cutting tool, which is also fixed, approaches the workpiece and slowly shaves away material until manufacturers achieve the desired shape.

Different kinds of cutting tools create different shave patterns on the workpiece. Some are designed to create a smooth, polished surface on cylindrical pieces. As the metal rotates on its axis, the tool maintains a consistent cutting angle so the resulting finished product has one leveled surface all the way around it.

Other tools are meant for burrowing a hole in the workpiece’s center. The more a workpiece rotates, the larger the hole will become. The cutting tool slowly advances forward until the hole reaches the manufacturer’s desired depth. Since neither the workpiece nor cutting tool tilt on their axes, the resulting hole will be perfectly centered and give the manufacturers a symmetrical design.

CNC lathe machines are also the perfect instrument for etching threads into a workpiece. The manufacturer attaches a pointed tool onto the spindle, which then produces a repeated pattern of grooves as the metal piece rotates on its table. Lathes are best suited for this tool path because the workpiece’s rotation is what allows the cutting tool to most effectively etch a consistent, accurate pattern.

Parts made with a lathe

Lathes are crucial pieces of equipment for manufacturers in Ukiah, CA due to their versatility. They can make a seemingly limitless number of pieces that typically have a circular or cylindrical shape. Every industry depends on a lathe to craft metal, plastic or wooden pieces. Some common examples include aerospace, furniture, weaponry, vehicles and more.

Within these industries, manufacturers need a lathe to create objects that range from common household objects to complex pieces for spacecraft. If you look close enough, you’ll realize many of the objects you use on a daily basis were constructed with a CNC lathe machine. A shaving tool is used to create items like baseball bats, bowls and cue sticks. Sharp tools make threaded screws and etch decorations into table and chair legs.

No matter the project, lathes are a necessary tool in your arsenal. They’ve been around for centuries and have only become more efficient with time. The team at Evden Enterprises recognizes the lathe’s versatility and has made it accessible to every client. Contact our experienced manufacturers for more information about what a CNC lathe machine is and how we can use it to create any design you want.