Screw machine shops were the first to integrate CNC Swiss-type lathes when those machines were introduced some years ago. Such shops primarily used cam-actuated screw machines for parts production because that equipment offered speed, reliability and productivity for high-volume work. Swiss-types complemented those shops’ mechanical machines by providing the flexibility to produce smaller batches of precision turned parts. Their sliding headstock design with guide-bushing support very close to the point of tool engagement with the barstock also made these machines well-suited for turning long parts with relatively small diameters (think bone screws).
These days, more general job shops are augmenting their conventional milling and turning equipment with Swiss-types. That’s largely because the machines offer both turning and milling operations. This makes it possible to drop intricate parts complete rather than running workpieces across multiple machines, minimizing work-in-process and setups. Swiss-types also use bar feeders to enable long stretches of unattended/lights-out operation.
Responses to our annual Top Shops benchmarking surveys have shown that a number of successful shops recognize the value of this multifunction machine platform. For example, in our 2016 survey, 26 percent of the shops in the industry-leading benchmarking group responded that they use Swiss-types, compared to only 15 percent of the other surveyed shops.
If this technology is something you’d like to learn more about, I suggest that you attend next month’s Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS) in Columbus, Ohio. PMTS is presented by the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) in collaboration with Modern Machine Shop and our sister publication, Production Machining. The eighth edition of the show will feature more than 260 exhibitors displaying equipment, products and services to more than 5,000 attendees.
Of course, there are other technologies in addition to Swiss-types that are used in precision parts production. That’s why you’ll also be able to learn about the latest offerings in advanced machine tools, cutting tools, software, part inspection equipment, workpiece materials and workholding/workhandling devices. The show also will feature numerous Knowledge Centers hosted by industry experts and leading equipment suppliers.
In addition, the Parts Cleaning Expo (PCx) will again be co-located at PMTS. PCx will cover basic topics related to practical applications of parts cleaning equipment as well as more advanced subjects about the latest cleaning research, regulations and innovations. It will also include a dedicated pavilion with conference sessions covering topics such as parts-cleaning fundamentals and imminent environmental regulations that shops may encounter.