Posted May 21, 2020

Designing for Live Tooling on a Lathe

Great part design isn't limited to functionality. You need to also consider the manufacturing capabilities that directly affect cost and turnaround. The more complex your part, the more time may be required for setup, additional machining, and adjusting for different equipment tolerances.

With the evolution of live tooling, the line between turning and milling processes has blurred. Many designs that once required additional milling can now be completed on a lathe, dramatically decreasing project costs and production time.

When designing complex cylindrical parts, it’s important to understand the basic production capabilities of different types of turning centers. Knowing these limitations will help you discover the the most efficient and profitable manufacturing option for your project. You can then choose to either budget for an additional milling step, adapt your design so that the part can be completed on a lathe, or find a shop that has the live tooling equipment needed to produce your part as economically as possible. 

Simple Turning Lathe

Facing

Facing produces a flat surface on the end of a part. 

Facing
Threading

Threading produces external or internal threads on a part.

Threading

 

turning

Turning reduces the dimensions of the outer cylindrical faces.

Turning

 

Parting

Parting creates deep grooves that cut off the finished part from the parent stock.

parting

 

Finishing

Finishing produces a finer, lighter cut to create a smooth surface finish. 

Finishing

 

turningLathewSecondSpindle

 

Turning Lathe with Second Spindle

A second spindle is used to complete features on both sides–important when ordering larger quantities of parts that don't have one end that's flat.

 

Live Tooling Lathe Capable of Radial and Axial Milling

Radial Drilling

The drill plunges and retracts (X axis motion), with the axis of the live tool (drill) intersecting with the axis of the part. The part then rotates (X axis motion) to go to the next hole.

RadialDrilling

 

Axial Milling

The tool moves up and down (X axis motion) and is coordinated with the part rotation (C axis motion) to make flats. 

AxialMilling

 

Axial drilling

The tool is offset from the part's centerline in X direction (up). Tool plunges into part (left) in Z axis. Part rotates about C axis to move from one hole to the next.

AxialDrilling

 

Zc plane RADIAL tool

The live tool spins about an axis parallel to the axis of rotation of the main spindle holding the part.

ZCPlaneRadialTool

 

Live Tooling Lathe With Additional Y Axis

Off Axis Milling

offAxisMilling

 

The live tool axis does not cross through the axis of the part (offset in Y, toward the back of the machine). 

XY Motion

XYMotion

 

This process is used to chamfer holes or to engrave text. Note that similar results could also be achieved through XC milling.

Live Tooling Lathe With Additional B Axis

In this process, the spindle is neither parallel to or perpendicular to the part's rotational access.  LiveToolingAdditionalBAxis

 

 

It's important to work closely with your manufacturing vendor to fully understand their capabilities and how different part design elements may affect your project's costs and turnaround time.

 

 

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