Rotary Transfer Moves from One Job to the Next

Using CNC technology, these machines allow for more flexibility to change the machine from one job to another.


In the quest to move things along quickly and efficiently in your shops, rotary transfer machines are your friends. Using CNC technology, these machines allow for more flexibility to change the machine from one job to another. Pallets that contain fixtured or colleted workpiece blanks are arranged on a round table that indexes from one working station to the next. One index of the table produces a complete part. On many machine designs, the machining stations, coupled with indexible or contouring pallets, allow for three, four- or five-axis machining. They are capable of milling, drilling and contouring a workpiece. The number of stations around the periphery depends on the complexity of the workpiece.

Two types of rotary transfer machine designs are used. Multi-station horizontal table machines have machining modules mounted in an end-feed or crossfeed orientation that provide the machining action to the usually stationary workpieces. The trunnion-type is another design, and it uses an indexing wheel mounted in a vertical orientation (like a Ferris wheel) with grippers located around the periphery. These grippers hold the workpiece blank in the center while tool stations from the headstock and tailstock ends of the machine attack both ends of the blank at once. Cross-slide operations can be performed using machining modules mounted perpendicular to the workpiece axis.

To learn more about rotary transfer machines and find inspiration to take the leap to implementing rotary transfer in your shop, read “Changing Your Comfort Zone.”

For success stories involving rotary transfer, read “Rotary Transfer: Turning Up the Volume,” and “Rotary Transfer Versus Swiss for Small Precision Parts.”