What Is a Lathe?

What Is a Lathe?

Category : Technical

In the manufacturing industry, the term machine tool gener­ally applies to a machine that cuts material either by the movement of a cutting tool into a fixed workpiece or by the movement of the workpiece past a fixed tool. All metal- cutting machines fit this description. In the case of the lathe, a fixed tool machines a rotating workpiece. Although the workpiece can be metal, plastic, wood, or most other solid materials, this study unit focuses on metal.

As noted above, a lathe is a machine tool that machines material by moving a fixed tool across a rotating workpiece. Figure 1 illustrates an example of a modern lathe. Modern lathes rotate workpieces using some type of electric motor, with the tool being moved manually, mechanically at a fixed feed rate, or electronically in the case of CNC lathes. Lathes can produce a variety of turned parts. With the proper attachments, lathes can produce many parts that would otherwise require a specialized machine.

Historically, the lathe has been considered the “king of the machine tools” because it had a greater capacity for work than any other type of machine tool. However, with the advances of CNC machinery, many features once machined only on the lathe an now be machined efficiently on a CNC machining center as well.

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