What is a CNC metal lathe used for? 

by | 6 Jan '23

A CNC metal lathe is a machine designed to rotate a metal workpiece on a central spindle. This allows an accurate cutting tool to be used on the inside or outside of the workpiece, to create something bespoke.  

Boxford CNC Lathes are designed predominantly for education and training use, within schools colleges and universities. However, they can also be found in some research and development departments and can be used for prototyping and small batch production. 

Our Bespoke CAD/CAM Design Tools software, simplifies the design to manufacture process and gives students an appreciation of what it takes to program a CNC machine, without any prior CNC machine programming experience.  

So how exactly does this work, and what can you make with a CNC metal lathe? 

The many uses of a CNC metal lathe 

A CNC metal lathe can be used for a range of purposes, including manufacturing and prototyping, research and development, and education. 

Creating manufacturing parts is one major use of a CNC metal lathe, and many specialist parts can be created using this machine. In a similar vein, creating a prototype project or design using a CNC metal lathe is very common in certain industries, as it allows you to work on the design and test it out before investing in a full-scale, final version. 

Research and development is an off-shoot of this, as creating new designs and parts can be sped up by a CNC metal lathe, and designers can experiment with different configurations before a final version is made. In similar contexts, a CNC metal lathe machine may be used in education settings to teach students about manufacturing processes 

Finally, repairing and refurbishing existing components or metal parts can easily be done with a CNC metal lathe due to the computer numerical controlled design. 

What can I make? 

The uses of a CNC metal lathe can range across different industries depending on the machine’s intended use. They’re commonly used to create shapes such as screw heads, or to drill holes in components such as gears and axels. 

Large-scale, specialist CNC metal lathes can even make complex parts with multiple angles, such as aircraft wings or turbine blades. These machines can even work with high-density metals such as titanium! In specialist areas such as the medical field, CNC metal lathes can be used to manufacture custom prosthetics. 

However, if you’re looking into one for the workshop, you might be looking at more achievable products such as small component parts. 

Why should I get a CNC metal lathe machine? 

Compared to other methods of producing intricate metal parts, a CNC metal lathe offers the advantage of having great accuracy and repeatability in creating components. 

Ultimately, it depends on what you want to make and what sort of space you have for a new machine. To get expert advice on the sort of machine that might be best for you, get in touch with us today!