Swiss Turning: The Ideal Multifunction Process
An upstate New York manufacturer and customer of Morris Great Lakes recently related to me how they decided to purchase a Swiss lathe to meet the daunting requirements of an important customer. The customer needed a greater diversity of industrial valve parts, more complex part geometries, smaller lot sizes, and lower prices.
Until purchasing the Swiss lathe, the manufacturer had met the customer’s needs with a process that consisted of multiple machining operations and batch production. Finished components were held in inventory in anticipation of the customer’s orders. Meeting the customer’s requirements and satisfying their own company’s need to maximize profitability necessitated a change in strategy. Multifunction machining was an obvious potential solution.
The manufacturer researched several different multifunction solutions before ultimately choosing a Swiss type lathe. Turret-driven live tools allow the lathe to perform drilling and milling operations efficiently on one machine. Plus, all of the live tools needed for each part in the family of parts reside on the machine. Secondary operations are no longer needed. Changeover time is dramatically reduced. Parts are produced when ordered, eliminating batch processing. Problem solved.
I cite this example because it broadly represents the challenges that many manufacturers face. In this particular case, Swiss machining was the perfect multifunction answer to the problem. Let’s examine some of the reasons why Swiss is often considered the ideal multifunction strategy for parts with outside diameters measuring less than 1.5 inches.
Bar stock is fed through the guide bushing into the work zone in a Swiss lathe. Tools move into position near the face of the guide bushing and shape the part as the bar is fed out. Inaccuracies related to part deflection are virtually eliminated.
All Sides of the Part Machined in One Set-Up
Swiss machines feature sub spindles with varying degrees of capability. The most basic will pick the part off and transfer it to the part conveyor. More complex models are capable of Y-axis motion and feature a large number of static and live tool positions.
Two- and three-path CNCs commonly featured in Swiss machines dramatically reduce cycle times. True simultaneous operation of the main and sub spindle is possible. That means that machining begins on part #2 on the main spindle while part #1 is finished on the subspindle. Idle spindle time is greatly reduced.
Swiss lathes can handle the most complex part geometries. Purchasing the right amount of capability for your needs is the key. Basic models feature a few live tools for cross drilling and milling. Turret-driven live tools available on more complex models can perform milling, drilling, thread whirling, hobbing, and polygon milling operations. The Tsugami S207 Swiss Turn and TMU1 Swiss type Automatic Lathe feature B-axis live tools that can produce sculpted shapes and machine in flat or inclined planes.
Responsive to Changing Customer Demands
Modular tool zones are one of the leading strategies employed by Swiss machine manufacturers in recent years. The "plug and play" cartridge-type live tool spindles on the Tsugami SS and S series machines can be moved easily between live positions. Once considered appropriate only for high volume parts, Swiss machining can now be utilized profitably for short run work due to shortened set-up times. Are your customers demanding more complex parts, greater variation, smaller lot sizes, and reduced prices? Don’t overlook Swiss technology.
Jeff Boulden is Marketing Manager at Morris Group, Inc.