3 Tips to Accelerate Production on Swiss Lathes with Micro Tools

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Low RPM lathes can cause tool breakage and prevent you from achieving proper SFM, but live tooling can provide an economical solution for these problems that can accelerate production.


Air Turbine Tools
Photo Credit: Air Turbine Live Tools™

One thing that can slow down the throughput of a Swiss-type lathe is when a part requires micro tooling for its features. Micro end mill detailing, finishing and engraving are time consuming processes that slow down the production of parts.

However, there are many ways to increase throughput without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at three ways to improve production throughput using micro tools on Swiss-type lathes.

1. Maintain Proper SFM at High RPM

Small tools are optimized for high-RPM cutting, but many Swiss lathes are equipped with only 6,000-RPM spindles. If you can't achieve proper RPM for your micro tools, you end up with broken tools, lost time and damaged parts.

In the past the only option was a speed increaser or speeder head, which are geared, electric or coolant driven. These solutions are not without their problems, as they can drop speed during the cut, in addition to heating up and expanding, which reduces accuracy. On top of that, speeders can burn out and often have short duty cycle times. This is all in addition to being expensive and time-consuming to set up.

Another option is the live tooling from Air Turbine Tools, which use a unique governed pneumatic turbine to maintain high speed 60,000 rpm or 80,000 RPM in cut. Air Turbine Live Tools are programmed like any other standard live tool and give you high SFM through your program, which you need for faster production and better surface finish with small tools. You won’t have the added cost and time lost setting up an electronic control system, nor its wiring or lubrication.

Additionally, Air Turbine Live Tools are direct drive with just two moving parts – the turbine and air-cooled ceramic bearings. This results in no heat or negative thermal effects on the 2-micron accuracy. It can also avoid issues with high frequency brushes, which can heat up and burn out.

2. Maintain High RPM on Live Tooling

In Swiss-type lathes, the challenge is often how to maintain a high enough throughput to remain profitable. To do this, it is helpful to reduce the number of variables in processes, and one way to do that is to maintain constant RPMs in live tooling.

Air Turbine Live Tools solves this problem using a patented governor that increases airflow to power the turbine matching cutting load. This means your cutting tools keep their speed of 60,000 or 80,000 RPM on the tool path. Maintaining constant high speed is critical for the lifespan of small cutting tools, as well as optimizing cutting at high SFM.

Because these live tools can achieve proper SFM with fixed governed RPM, changing the feed rate delivers the same effect as varying the RPM. This means there is no need to change the RPM for these pneumatic live tools.

Below is a time saving chart that demonstrates the material time savings when your RPM and SFM are increased. With these reductions in cutting time, a shop can dramatically increase throughput. Air Turbine Live Tools time savings

Having evaluated this new spindle type at the Tornos factory in Moutier, Switzerland Mr. Philippe Charles, head of product management Swiss-type says, “Air Turbine Motors rotating at 80,000 rpm help our customers to machine precise material like titanium and stainless steels. The high cutting speed enables us to extend the tool life and precision of the final component.” Jens Thing, Chief Marketing Officer of Tornos SA says, “There is nothing else out there to speed your spindle speed up that simple. I really appreciate partnering with Air Turbine Tools to really show something different.”

3. Remember: Small Benefits Add Up

Swiss-type are high-production machines capable of completing many parts in a single setup with simple automation tools. Speeding up a single process can often dramatically improve a job’s profitability. So when a live tooling solution can maintain high spindle RPMs and SFM, what that really means is less time to produce each part, a lower cost for the job and increased profits.

Additionally, the live tooling is simple to install. The Air Turbine Live Tool fits in any boring bar holder, and the shop can simply install one airline to power it. There are different configurations to match different lathes and applications with a rear air inlet and exhaust as well as side with brackets integrated. They are available in many different sizes and diameters from 22-40mm.

Additional Benefits of Air Turbine Live Tools

  • 24/7 operation with no duty cycle
  • No thermal growth
  • No lubrication or oil needed
  • Great Reliability
  • Easy to set up - Operate by just connecting to 90 psi (6.2 bar) compressed air
  • No control system and wiring, which means no added expense and time lost setting up an electronic control system and its wiring
  • Short lead time shipping with 5-7 days from order
  • Full customer support- call and a technical advisor available to help with programming or any other questions you might have.

Please visit Air Turbine Tools to learn more about High Speed Air Turbine Live Tools™.