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What is a Turret Lathe?

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 6/26/2009

Read this article to know more about a unique type of lathe machine which can be used for mass production either using modern CNC technology or older mechanical system controls.

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    Introduction

    We have been talking quite a lot about various types of machines used in industry in general as well as those used specifically in manufacturing technology including lathe machines in our previous articles. In this article we will focus on a particular type of lathe namely the turret lathe and learn about its working and uses it can be put to.

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    What is a Turret Lathe?

    As we learnt earlier, a lathe can be used for various purposes including woodcutting, metal-cutting, watch-making and what not. The basic purpose of all these machines is to minimize human labour involved in the process and make it as much automated and refined as possible. Lathes which are used for metal cutting in industrial processes are normally required to produce products on a mass scale.

    A single product requires several machining operations which in turn would require several different kinds of tools to carry out these operations. If an operator were to manually adjust each tool after every single operation, this would certainly consume a lot of time and unnecessary efforts.

    Keeping the above limitations in mind the engineers came up with the idea of a typical lathe machine where everything could be fitted and configured in one go literally speaking. Such a metal working lathe which has got a turret and can perform several functions in an automated fashion is known as a turret lathe.

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    How does it function?

    It is all very well to say that the processes are automated but how do we go about achieving the same? Well the answer varies depending on the nature of lathe we are talking about. For example modern CNC lathes use servo-mechanisms to control and time all these processes while in the older versions mechanical arrangements such as stop limits etc. are used to achieve the same goal.

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    About the turret

    If you are aware of gun related terminology you surely would know that a turret refers to a sort of arrangement which his used to hold several weapons which can fire the particular shot depending on exact requirement. The turret of the lathe is a similar platform in the form of a tool holder, which holds various tools which can be used by appropriate rotation depending on the requirement of the work piece in a specific order which is preset using whichever method is used to control the automation.

    The picture below shows the sketch of a typical turret lathe and all the parts are clearly marked on it. As you can notice, the tailstock of the normal lathe is replaced by the turret which can mount several tools and is free to rotate along its vertical axis depending on the required tool to be used for the specific operation. Turret Lathe Sketch  

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    More information

    There are several classifications of turret lathes and there is another category of lathes known as capstan lathes which have a close resemblance to turret lathes but with some underlying differences between the two. In the next couple of articles we will take a more detailed look at these turret lathes and see how they can be used for a wide variety of purposes using various attachments that are used with them.

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    Image Credits

    Lathe Sketch from Michigan Technological University Turning Information Center



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