In manufacturing, it is important to produce work pieces according to specifications. This is where the lathe machine comes in handy. A lathe machine is used for the machining and working of hard materials. Conventionally, the lathe machine is designed for the machining of metals, but as new materials emerged, there are lathe machines that are used for these materials as well. The main function of the lathe is to remove material from a work piece through the use of cutting tools. The lathe shapes a material by holding and rotating the material as a cutting tool is advanced into it. There are a lot of shapes and forms that can be produced by the lathe machine. More importantly, these shapes come in various sizes and specifications.
Generally, the lathe is composed of the bed, headstock, tailstock, and the carriage. The bed allows the carriage and the tailstock to be in parallel with the axis of the spindle. Moreover, the bed also serves as the base of the lathe and is connected to the headstock. The headstock basically is where the main spindle, the change gears, and the speed change mechanism are mounted on. On the other hand, the tailstock is directly mounted on the spindle axis, and serves as the tool holder. The tailstock is mounted opposite the headstock. Finally, the carriage is where the tool bit or the drill bit is placed and holds it in position as it moves perpendicularly or longitudinally. The direction of the movement of the cutting tool is actually controlled by the operator.
There are three general types of lathe machines which are engine lathes, turret lathes, and special purpose lathes. Each of these lathes has specific applications and distinctive characteristics.
Engine lathes. These are probably the most popular among the lathe machines. In fact, no machine shop is seen without this type of lathe. The good thing about engine lathes is that it can be used in various materials, aside from metal. Moreover, the set-up of these machines is so simple that they are easier to use. Its main components include the bed, headstock, and tailstock. These engine lathes can be adjusted to variable speeds for the accommodation of a wide scope of work. In addition, these lathes come in various sizes.
Turret Lathes. These types of lathes are used for machining single workpieces sequentially. This means that several operations are needed to be performed on a single work piece. With the turret lathes, sequential operations can be done on the work piece, eliminating errors in work alignment. With this set-up, machining is done more efficiently. Correspondingly, time is saved because there is no need to remove and transfer the work piece to another machine anymore.
Special Purpose Lathes. As the name implies, these lathes are used for special purposes such as heavy-duty production of identical parts. In addition, these lathes also perform specific functions that cannot be performed by the standard lathes. Some examples of special purpose lathes include the bench-type jewelers’ lathes, automatic lathes, crankshaft lathes, duplicating lathes, multispindle lathes, brakedrum lathes, and production lathes among others.
Fig.1. Engine Lathe
Fig.2. Turret Lathe
Fig. 3 - Swiss Type Automatic Lathe
Fig. 4 - Duplicating Lathe