CNC Metal Lathes
Picture this, you’re starting up your own shop but you only have enough start-up capital to buy one machine — what machine would you buy? The most important question to be answered is what kind of business are you looking to get into? That will really help you decide if your first machine is a mill or a lathe.
Stated another way, if you were going to get into say machine repair parts you would probably use a CNC metal lathe more than a mill, looking to make shafts and such. If on the other hand, you plan to open a die shop your first move is probably a mill.
"My personal favorite machine tool," commented one of our salesman, "is the metal lathe. I've loved lathes ever since I met my first Clausing 16" swing by 60" centers lathe some 40 years ago. That was then, this is now, man have things changed!" Well, today not only do we have his favorite machine under discussion, we are going to have even more fun by adding a CNC controller.
How Did We Get Started in this CNC Lathe Business Anyway?
That part of the story requires we spend a little time discussing history, though we're not going to spend very long in antiquity. Suffice it to say, the first known lathes date back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians some 2,000 or so years ago. It took two guys to operate these machines, as one guy would manipulate the cutting tool while the other guy spun the piece via some kind of rope set-up.
Move up about ten centuries to the mid-1800’s and you are in the age of either water-power, wind-power, horse-power or lastly, human-power lathes, each turning all different types of material. Round about the very late 1800’s came the steam-powered age in which one steam engine could run an entire factory by a system of belts and rollers.
The next step in the evolution sees the first independently powered lathe machines, run by their own electric motors. Once metal lathes got their own motors, everything about how the lathes were designed began to get improved. Once the lathes reached the mid-1950’s, the first servo-motored lathes began to show up all around the industry. Rudimentary computer controls were on everybody’s drawing boards, and about to get implemented.
The Age of the CNC Control
So, it’s now the swinging 60’s (remember the Beach Boys? The race to the moon? Tie-dye and paisleys?). About this time, production of CNC machines began. At first it was mostly CNC mills and CNC lathes, then gradually the rest of the world of metalworking machinery began to hit the streets.
Remember the first light-emitting diode (LED) displays that had the orange read-out on the black background? That’s back in the stone age of CNC lathes, and they were around for more years than most of us would have liked (but we digress). So, with the advent of servo motor on ball screw machine movement, it wasn’t long before the engineers figured out how to control that machine movement via computer.
History from that point on has come like a waterfall, innovation after innovation continues even today, almost 60 years after the original machines went to market. Nowadays it’s not difficult to find a 5-axis milling machine in facilities that you might not have given that much credit to from the outside. How long before the CNC metal lathe grows another axis? How long before we see another axis on a milling machine?
Besides the evolution of the machine tool itself, with all the improvements to structure and capabilities, how about the CNC controller? Talking about LED displays, back in those days you didn’t ask a whole lot of your machine's controller — and you weren’t disappointed! Would it surprise you to learn that a modern day 5-axis CNC controller probably has more capability and memory than NASA had when it first went to the moon? And who can predict what advances lie ahead to help out the humble machinists of the future?
It's All About Selection, Who Has It and Who Doesn’t?
Boy, if there’s one thing Jorgenson Machine Tools has in horizontal turning centers, it is selection. Developing our own JMT line of high quality CNC machines in conjunction with our manufacturing partner has offered us the opportunity to request name brand major components, greatly relieving the issue of long replacement part delays. In addition to the national availability of parts, we maintain our own inventory of known wear parts for our private label CNC metal lathes as well.
We also carry equipment from a number of nationally-known CNC lathe manufactures. That’s why we say selection and diversity are two very good words to use when referring to our considerable portfolio of CNC turning centers.
To Whom Do You Trust Your Production?
Entrusting your production to machines from a particular vendor is an important decision a manufacturer or job shop has to make every time they purchase a machine. Getting a good deal on a good piece of equipment is just the first step in a long process of proving that decision to be a good one.
As Jorgenson Machine Tools has known for some time, putting a long-term smile on their customers' faces takes much more than just a competitive sales price. It boils down to that combination of competent sales, parts and accessories support as well as professional machinery repair. Jorgenson Machine Tools is the place where all three things come together every day. That’s why we like to say: Jorgenson Machine Tools, “Strong on Service.”