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What Are the Different Types of Lathe Machinery?

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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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There are several different types of lathe machinery designed for various purposes. A wood lathe is a small, simple device used exclusively for working with wooden materials. An engine lathe is designed for common metalworking tasks while a turret lathe can perform multiple functions on the same work piece. Tool room lathe machinery is typically utilized for procedures requiring a high degree of accuracy. Computer numerically controlled lathe machinery is capable of performing high-speed functions for mass-production applications.

Lathe machinery is utilized to perform a process known as turning. This process involves removing a certain amount of material from a workpiece by means of rotation. A cutting tool is pressed against the workpiece to shape it as it turns on the lathe. There are several different types of lathe machinery intended for specific purposes. Most lathes are manually operated, but automated versions are also manufactured.

A wood lathe is a small, simple machine consisting of a tool rest, headstock, tailstock, and bed. It is not designed for precision cutting because the shaping tool is hand-powered. Spinning is controlled by a belt-driven motor which can be adjusted to various speeds. Woodworking tools are supported by the tool rest, and manual pressure is applied to the workpiece. A certain amount of skill is required to accurately operate a wood lathe.

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An engine lathe is designed for turning almost any type of metal work piece. Like the wood lathe, it consists of a headstock, tailstock, and bed. Shaping tools may be manually operated or gear driven. An engine lathe also features a compound rest and cross-slide for angular and cross cutting. This machine typically has a much wider speed range than a wood lathe.

A turret lathe is capable of performing a sequence of different operations on a single workpiece. Its design is similar to an engine lathe with an indexing turret attached. Turret lathes can significantly reduce production time and costs of certain metalworking processes. This multifunction device saves time by allowing the workpiece to remain attached to the lathe during multiple operations. The sequential operation also reduces costly errors resulting from repeated workpiece realignment.

Tool room lathe machinery is designed for metalworking tasks that require precision shaping. This type of lathe is extremely accurate and frequently utilized in machine shops. A computer numerically controlled lathe is able to perform high-speed operations on a large scale. These specialized machines are capable of repeatedly performing complex metalworking tasks without being readjusted. This machinery is often used in mass-production manufacturing applications.

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