To get more capability from a machining center, adding a fourth axis via a rotary table is a cost-effective way to produce multiple face workpieces more easily and quickly. It provides the ability to access odd angles (down to 0.001 degree) without designing complicated fixturing. A rotary table also allows a machine to perform complex contours and spirals.
Although most commonly mounted “flat” on a vertical machining center, sometimes a rotary table is mounted on its end so that it rotates around a horizontal axis. A rotary table can be used for many applications and can complete the following processes: drill equidistant holes on a circular flange; cut a round piece with a protruding tang; cut complex curves; cut straight lines at any angle; cut arcs; and more.
A rotary table also allows multiple faces to be accessed without moving the workpiece out of a fixture, thus producing a very accurate workpiece.
By adding a rotary table to a machine, the cycle time per part is reduced because multiple operations are performed in one clamping. Also, it allows the workpiece to be in production, untouched, for longer periods of time.
Another not-so-obvious benefit to a rotary table is that the machining center it is mounted on does not have to be dedicated to rotary table work. In the majority of cases, a rotary table will be mounted to the right side of the machine table, leaving most of the machine free for other non-rotary table work. It also allows the machine to be set up for multiple jobs at the same time.
For more information about rotary tables and their benefits, read “Taking Production and Instruction to the 4th Axis.”
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