If you're looking for ways to automate your metal fabrication shop and eliminate some of the human element, one of the things you might want to consider is investing in a CNC lathe or two. CNC equipment will help you to simplify your fabrication processes and ensure a consistent product every single time. Here are some of the features you'll want to look for when you start shopping for your first CNC machines.

Swing Specification Basics

Every CNC machine has a swing specification. It refers to the machine's capacity for the size of the materials that you can put on the machine. The actual swing specification is the largest diameter of material that you can place on the lathe without striking the safety guards. It's important that you consider this as it applies to the size of the materials you'll be cutting. If you put something too large on the lathe, when the chuck spins, it could hit the safety guards and damage them, putting everyone in your shop at risk of being hurt.  

Turning Diameter Dimensions

The turning diameter is another measurement that you need to consider. This diameter refers to the largest material you can put on the machine and still turn it with the standard lathe tools. If you're going to be working with raw materials that measure an average of 18 inches in diameter, you'll need to be sure that you're choosing a lathe with a turning diameter that will accommodate that. Otherwise, you'll find that your cutting tools can't get all the way around the raw materials. The more space you have in your turning diameter as compared to the size of your raw materials, the more flexibility you'll have in your manufacturing.  

Turning Length Restrictions

Another specification that you need to evaluate is the lathe's turning length. This measurement refers to the longest dimension of raw material that the machine will be able to turn based on the axis and dimensions. Make sure that your raw materials won't exceed the maximum length that your lathe can accommodate.

Torque and Horsepower Capacities

Every CNC machine is rated for its horsepower and torque capacity. Make sure that both are sufficient for the type of material you're going to be working with. For example, if you'll be working with steel or something equally heavy, you'll need a machine with higher torque and horsepower ratings.

A CNC lathe is a great investment for any growing metal fabrication shop. With the tips presented here, you'll be in a better position to evaluate your choices and select a machine that's going to be a good fit for your shop.