Big Bore Lathes: Three Reasons Why You Should Move to CNC
Not so long ago, I offered a few reasons to supersize your underpowered or undersized big bore lathe. I also suggested some things to look for when doing so. I’m going to make a similar argument, except this time I’m talking to those of you who haven’t yet made the leap to CNC. Maybe you’re doing oil fieldwork. You might be making shafts for power generation equipment or precision components for machine tools. Whatever the case, investing in a CNC big bore lathe is a no-brainer, even for low quantity work. Here’s why:
Big Bore CNCs Are More Accurate
With all due respect to the skilled men and women who turn large parts for a living, they simply can’t compete with a servo-powered CNC machine. Properly setup, a big bore lathe like Kent CNC’s TA-Series Heavy Duty Boring Turning Center will achieve far greater accuracy than any human. Most importantly, it’s going to do so all day, every day, with never a chance of a misread digit or one too many turns of the handle. So what, you say—we’re hitting our tolerances just fine right now. But here’s the thing: a more accurate machine means you can make tighter tolerance, higher value parts. It means greater return on your investment and more money for your shop.
Big Bore CNC Lathes Are More Productive
I don’t care how fast you can crank the handle; a CNC big bore moves much faster than a manual lathe. With rapid traverse speeds up to 6 meters per minute (20 ft.), CNCs don’t get tired, they don’t slow down. Need to remove a bunch of metal? Because it’s automated, just tell the machine how much, how far, and how fast, and go do something else while it gets to work. It means more parts out the door each day. More dollars on the table each week. Faster ROI than you thought possible.
Big Bore CNC Lathes Attract Customers
Walk into two shops. The first has a big bore manual lathe. It’s a high-quality machine with an experienced machinist. There’s little this journeyman can’t do. Now walk into a shop with the same machine, except it’s automated. Assuming the piece price is close, who will you give the work to? My vote is the CNC shop. I know they’ll be more efficient. Therefore, the chance of scrapping an expensive part will almost certainly be lower. And I know the part quality will be more consistent. The burden rate will be higher, but that’s offset by the greater productivity just mentioned. CNC wins.
Finally, I could go spout off a bunch of machinery specs. We could discuss cast iron beds and hardened chrome-moly bearings. I could tell you about the different types of CNC controls, and try to convince you they’re easier than ever to operate. Leave that for the sales engineers. If you’re still relying on manual equipment to compete, rest assured, you probably won’t be for long. It’s time for a change.