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What is a lathe used for?

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-05-20      Origin: Site

What is a lathe used for?

What is a lathe used for? Nearly everything! But today’s uses tend to fall in the categories of “industrial” and “artisan.” Industrial uses cover everything from a locally-owned machine shop making replacement parts for old cars, to state-owned enterprises producing heavy machinery. On the other end of the spectrum, craftsmen are using lathes to produce unique and breathtaking pieces in wood, metal, glass, epoxy, and nearly every other material imaginable.

A lathe is a machine tool that is used for producing components that are symmetrical about an axis. It can be used for machining cylindrical surfaces, both external and internal, and also for the turning of conical surfaces or tapers. An additional feature of the lathe is its ability to cut screw threads on a cylindrical surface that has already been machined. The accuracy of the work done on a lathe depends on the skill and experience of the operator.


Now that we’ve looked at a lathe in action, let’s back up a bit. Lathes, in some form, have been around since the Egyptians. Think of the resemblance to the pottery wheel; well, pottery has been around for thousands of years – so it makes sense that lathes, which follow a similar principle, would come along pretty quickly afterward.

The most basic lathes allowed, and still allow, craftsmen to free-hand the removal of material as in the video above. As the centuries progressed, and especially during the Industrial Revolution, lathes developed with integral heads, mounted on cross-slides that ran the length of the lathe bed, over which the workpiece would rotate. Also during the Industrial Revolution came the introduction of steam-powered lathes, capable of ever-greater rotation rates and the torque to rotate heavier parts. Lathes were now used not just to turn wooden parts, but metal ones.

The next great leap forward came in the second half of the twentieth century, with the advent of Computer Numeric Control (CNC). CNC-equipped lathes allowed operators to program a set of instructions for the machine. This allowed the exact duplication of those instructions, which meant parts that were increasingly accurate, and reduced the number of operators necessary to keep multiple machines running simultaneously. Today’s innovation provides increasingly precise CNC programming, with ever-growing numbers of the axis.

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