You’ve got more great ideas than you can keep up with, so little by little, you’ve begun outfitting a tidy little machine shop behind your house. Or, maybe you’ve taken the plunge and gone all-in on a machine shop business, helping to turn what other people imagine into reality. Whether it’s a replacement part for that old car you’re restoring or a new design for an airplane part that will revolutionize the industry, you have the tools and the know-how to make it happen.
Here’s the thing: it’s finally time you took the next step and invested in a CNC turning center. CNC machining is the way the professionals do it, and of the CNC machines you can buy, a turning center is the most versatile with the most potential applications.
How can a CNC turning center work for you? Below we look at exactly what this device can do and how you can use it to take your business or your hobby to the next level.
What is CNC Turning?
Like all CNC (computer numerical control) machining, CNC turning is an automated machining process that allows you to produce virtually any product using virtually any material, quickly, safely, and easily. In general terms, CNC machining is a subtractive process. That is, you begin with a block of material, and the machine cuts away the excess until your final part or product is revealed. As a result, you can replicate any part you need, but you can also create custom parts or use the process to design prototypes on the way to inventing the next great product.
The most important aspect of CNC machining, though, is its automation. The entire process is run by computer. If you’re familiar with CAD (computer-aided design), you can easily create a 3D image of your design, then use that image to create a software package that tells the machine itself exactly what, when, and how to cut.
As you might expect, given the name, a CNC turning center uses rotation in that cutting process. A block of material is placed between two chucks and then rotated at high speeds as a number of blades remove excess material. Because it works through rotation, CNC turning is most often used to produce cylindrical objects, but the end result can take any number of shapes.
What Can You Do with a CNC Turning Center?
When it comes to CNC turning, you’re really only limited by your imagination. Again, the machining process itself is automated, so all you need to do is come up with an idea for a product or a part and use CAD to set its specifications.
In fact, because of its versatility, CNC turning is used in a wide variety of industries, from aerospace and computers, and from medical equipment to sporting goods. CNC turning is used to help gun manufacturers design new barrels, to help musicians design new guitars, and to help auto manufacturers design new crankshafts.
Baseball bats to clocks, pens to chair legs: a CNC turning center can help you do it all, making your workspace infinitely more productive.
What are the Advantages of a CNC Turning Center?
CNC turning doesn’t just make these things, though: it makes them quickly and efficiently. Because the process is automated, it isn’t subject to human error. You don’t have to worry how fast you are turning the lathe: the computer takes care of all the decisions and makes sure everything is done precisely.
This means you produce products and parts to more exacting standards. Typically, for example, CNC machining results in tolerances that are within .005 inch specifications.
In addition, though, CNC turning saves time, which ultimately saves money. You don’t have to stop the process to rest or to follow safety protocols. The machine hums away on its own until it’s produced exactly what you’ve asked it to. Less time, less manpower, less hassle, and better end results: that’s a recipe for success no matter how you look at it.
You may be proud of the equipment you’ve assembled in your machine shop, and you’re already making things you never thought you would. When you’re ready to move up to the next level, though, the professional level, your first purchase should be a CNC turning center.