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Advantages of Swiss Turning and Machining

Over the past several years, Swiss-type machining and turning have grown in popularity across a range of industries. This surge in popularity is due in large part to companies discovering the various benefits that this type of machining offers over traditional machining methods. 

Swiss Turning vs. Conventional Turning

CNC swiss type machine at work

Swiss turning offers a cost-effective way to produce small, complex components at high volumes and with excellent precision. Compared to conventional turning methods, Swiss turning features the following differences:

  • Headstock. One of the biggest differences between Swiss turning and conventional turning involves the headstock. Conventional turning has a fixed headstock that holds the workpiece as the cutting tool moves, whereas Swiss turning utilizes a sliding headstock, which feeds the workpiece through a guide bushing past the stationary cutting tool.
  • Guide bushing. Swiss-type lathes feed the stock through a guide bushing, meaning the OD turning tool can cut the stock very close to the bushing. This allows Swiss turning to be particularly effective for long and slender turned parts. Conventional lathes hold the workpiece in the collet of the main spindle, which is not suitable for long parts.
  • Capability. Traditional lathes typically feature 3 or 4 axes and are unable to machine a turned component in one cycle. Swiss lathes can perform multiple functions in one cycle thanks to its 5-axis capabilities.
  • Cycle Time. Swiss lathes significantly reduce cycle times, especially when machining extremely complex components.
  • Coolant. For conventional turning, water is often used as a coolant. Swiss types use oil as the coolant for enhanced lubricity.

CNC swiss type machining at workBenefits of Swiss Turning

Swiss CNC machining offers a wide range of benefits over traditional machining operations. These benefits include:

  • Capable of achieving extremely tight tolerances for complex components
  • Short set-up times
  • Performs milling, drilling, sawing, and other operations, eliminating the need for secondary processes
  • Can produce small, intricate components in a single cycle
  • Produces an excellent surface finish
  • Less vibration and tool deflection than traditional lathes
  • High-volume capabilities
  • Can run unattended for hours at a time

These many advantages have made Swiss turning a popular machining method for various industries, including watch-making, medical, aerospace, electronics, and more.

Swiss Turning and Machining from Buell Automatics, Inc.

With over 50 years of experience designing and manufacturing small precision parts and components, the experts at Buell Automatics have the knowledge needed to deliver custom-tailored solutions that accommodate the needs of customers across a range of industries. Our CNC Swiss turning capabilities allow us to deliver complex components that adhere to the tightest tolerances, whether you require a prototype or high-volume production. 

For more information about our Swiss turning services, request a quote from our expert team today.

Types of Precision CNC Machining Processes

Computer numerical control (CNC) machining refers to subtractive manufacturing operations that utilize automation technology to control the movement of machine tools. Specialized computer software is used to program the equipment to remove excess material from a stock piece as needed to achieve the desired shape and size with minimal human operator involvement. Compared to traditional machining methods, it offers various advantages, which has led to its rapid rise in popularity within the manufacturing sector over the years.

Common Types of CNC Machining Processes

The term “CNC machining” encompasses many subtractive manufacturing processes. Some of the most common are CNC turning, CNC milling, CNC laser machining, CNC electrical discharge machining (EDM), and CNC plasma cutting. 

CNC Turning

Turning is a manufacturing process in which the workpieces are rotated, and the cutting tools are fed into the workpieces in a linear motion. Material is removed around the circumference of the workpiece until the desired diameter and/or features are achieved. 

Swiss turning is a subtype of turning. It uses a specialized lathe, known as a Swiss lathe, which offers better support to the workpiece. As a result, the workpiece experiences less bending stress throughout the machining operation, and the final component is made to tighter tolerances. 

CNC turned components are generally cylindrical. They can have a variety of internal and external features, such as bores, broaches, holes, slots, tapers, and threads. Components made on Swiss lathes are typically small in diameter and made in medium to high volumes. 

CNC Milling

CNC milling is a manufacturing process in which the cutting tool is rotated and moved around a stationary workpiece. It utilizes equipment referred to as a mill or a machining center to remove material and create the desired component. It is suitable for making large objects with highly complex geometries. 

CNC Laser Machining 

CNC laser machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes a high-powered laser to cut, etch, or engrave materials. The laser heats the surface of the material, causing the targeted section to melt or vaporize. As it moves across the surface, it creates the desired cut, etching, or engraving. 

CNC EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining)

CNC electrical discharge machining (EDM) is a manufacturing process that uses controlled electrical sparks to shape the workpiece. The sparks generate heat (up to 21,000° F), which melts targeted areas of the workpiece to achieve the desired form or feature. Typical elements found in parts and products made using EDM include micro holes, slots, and tapered or angled features.

CNC Plasma Cutting

CNC plasma cutting is a manufacturing process that employs superheated, ionized gas (i.e., plasma) to cut electrically conductive material. The plasma is funneled through a torch controlled by a computer. It can achieve temperatures up to 50,000° F, which is high enough to melt through a variety of materials in various thicknesses, including aluminum, brass, copper, stainless steel, and steel. 

Advantages of CNC Machining

There are many advantages to choosing CNC machining methods over conventional machining methods. Since CNC machining operations use computers rather than human operators to control the movement and action of the machine tools, they generally offer greater speed, accuracy, and precision than conventional machining operations, regardless of the process performed (e.g., turning, milling, cutting, etc.) CNC machining equipment can consistently produce components with simple to highly complex geometries to tight tolerances (typically ±.0002 to ±.0005 inches) even in high volumes. Additionally, CNC machined components tend to have finer (i.e., smoother) surface finishes than conventionally machined ones. 

Typical Industrial Applications of CNC Machined Components

While CNC machining is used to create components for nearly every industry, the growing demand for small components made to tight tolerances has led to a significant rise in the popularity of CNC Swiss machining among industrial manufacturers. The process enables pieces to be manufactured with a high degree of precision and accuracy, which is essential for parts and products whose form and function depend on high-accuracy, high-precision components.

 Some of the industries that use CNC Swiss machined components include: 

  • Aerospace
  • Electronics
  • Robotics

Quality Machining Solutions From Buell Automatics

Want to learn more about precision CNC machining? Ask the experts at Buell Automatics! Armed with over five decades of experience in the design and manufacture of small, precision machined components, we have what it takes to answer or address any questions or concerns you may have about the topic. 

Additionally, if you’re looking for a machining partner for your next project, we are here to help! Our team can deliver custom solutions that fully meet your specific industry and application needs. Request a quote to get started. 

A Brief Introduction to Swiss CNC Machining

Swiss machining equipment refers to screw machines used to create high-accuracy, high-precision parts and products. The main difference between it and other equipment is that it uses a guide bushing to reduce the distance between the cutting tool and the main spindle, which decreases the risk of the workpiece bending and, consequently, the cutting surface deflecting. The integration of computer numerical control (CNC) technology into the equipment can further enhance the degree of accuracy and precision that can be achieved during production operations. 

The following article provides an overview of the CNC Swiss machining process. It covers what the process entails, the benefits it offers, and the industries in which it is used. 

What Is Swiss CNC Machining?

Swiss CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process, meaning it uses cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece to achieve the shape and size needed for the desired component. It uses Swiss screw machines, which are a type of automated lathe.

During Swiss CNC machining operations, the lathe gradually feeds bar stock through a guide bushing, which supports the piece as it feeds into the tooling area. It then rotates the bar stock and uses the cutting tool(s) to shave away excess material. Unlike conventional CNC lathes, Swiss CNC lathes allow the bar stock to move along the Z-axis while keeping the cutting tool(s) stationary. 

Benefits of the Swiss CNC Machining Process

There are many benefits to using the Swiss CNC machining process to manufacture parts and products. For example: 

It produces components to tight tolerances.

One of the most critical differences between conventional CNC lathes and Swiss CNC lathes is where they support the workpiece. Since Swiss CNC lathes support the workpiece closer to the machining area than conventional CNC lathes, they are better at keeping the piece steady during operations. As a result, even small pieces can be produced to tight tolerances.  

It accommodates complex component designs. 

Since Swiss CNC lathes are highly supportive of the workpiece throughout machining operations and, consequently, able to create parts and products to tight tolerances, they can be used to make components with intricate and/or delicate elements. While other machines may struggle with producing thin walls or deep cuts, these machines can easily accommodate such designs.

It creates components at a fast rate.

Compared to other CNC machines, the cycle times for Swiss-type units can be significantly shorter. While some other machines may require one or more hours to machine a single component, depending on size and complexity, Swiss machines can produce 30 or more units in an hour. 

It generates less odor. 

Many Swiss-type machines use oil instead of water for cutting fluids. As a result, they require less lubrication as well as produce less odor. 

Swiss CNC Machining Applications

Swiss CNC lathes find application in the manufacturing operations of a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to, the following:  

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Defense/Military
  • Electronics
  • Information Technology
  • Medical

Learn More About Swiss CNC Machining From Buell Automatics

Swiss CNC machining is an ideal manufacturing solution for many parts and products. Want to learn more about the process and how it can benefit your next project? Ask the experts at Buell Automatics! We have extensive experience providing precision machining solutions that utilize Swiss-type machines. Our team has the knowledge to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have about the process. Additionally, we can serve as your machining partner. Contact us at (585) 328-7430 or request a quote today.

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