Swiss Turning vs Conventional Turning

Turning technology continues to advance as manufacturers look for better ways to produce highly engineered parts. Additions have been made throughout the years, and Swiss-type machines have gained popularity, revolutionizing the way small precision components are produced.

Depending on the application and production needs, Swiss-type machines can offer distinct advantages due to their unique programming and functionality. If you’ve worked exclusively with conventional lathes, you’ll find there are many differences when using a Swiss-type machine.

Here are the major differences between Swiss-type and conventional turning.

A guide bushing enables better precision.

In conventional turning, the workpiece is held firmly at one or both ends and is cut by tools as it spins. Swiss-type machines feed the workpiece through a guide bushing so the piece is always cut near the point of support no matter how long the piece is. This significantly minimizes deflection, allowing for exceptional precision—even in parts with the most demanding tolerances. This is why Swiss-type turning is the perfect solution for long, slender, high-tolerance parts.

Unique machine programming.

When programming a Swiss-type machine, one critical difference to keep in mind is that the offset programming is the opposite compared to conventional lathes. To make a turn length longer or a drilled hole deeper, the Z-axis requires a “plus” offset, whereas conventional lathes would require a “minus” offset. Also, oil is used as the cutting fluid on Swiss-type machines instead of water to keep the machine better lubricated and to avoid rusting and premature wear.

Better high-volume production capability.

If you have to produce large volumes of small, precision parts, Swiss CNC machines are the ideal solution. They are able to perform multiple operations with a single set-up, remarkably increasing productivity compared to a conventional lathe. This unique capability comes from their number of axes. The typical number of axes on a conventional CNC lathe ranges from three to four, while Swiss-type lathes can have up to thirteen. This enables parts to be completed in one cycle versus what would otherwise take multiple operations or even multiple machines. Their capability for repeatable, automated quality saves time and money while maintaining extreme accuracy.

Customers receive more cost-effective rates.

Due to their advanced controls and high-precision capability, Swiss-type lathes are more expensive than a conventional lathe. You can see a large return on investment, however, since they have much faster cycle times and are able to run for hours unattended. This leads to faster turnaround and more throughput. Some companies have even cited productivity doubling as a result. And since production is more cost-effective, they are able to offer customers better pricing.

Depending on what your needs are, Swiss-type turning can help suppliers produce parts faster and at a more cost-effective rate—all while achieving the best possible precision.