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The Advantages Of Using a CNC Swiss Machine

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  • The Advantages Of Using a CNC Swiss Machine

    What Are The Advantages Of Using A CNC Swiss Machine?

    The Swiss machine was designed to achieve tight tolerances while improving the repeatability and quality of production components. The method leverages attributes such as a bar stock feeder, guide bushing, and second spindle to deliver advantages including:
    • Increased productivity, which translates to lower cost per piece and less time to fabricate
    • Reduced setup and tool change time, which shortens production time on repeat orders and decreases long-term cost per part
    • Improved uptime resulting from improvements in programming and bar feeding, which allow a machine to run unattended — perhaps even on lights out schedule
    • Lower tooling costs, which effectively reduce production costs
    What Unique Characteristics Of A Swiss Machine Contribute To Its Advantages?

    In CNC Swiss machining, bar stock is fed through a chucking collet, where the headstock clamps onto it. The bar is located by a guide bushing and then emerges into the tool zone.

    Unlike a conventional lathe, where the headstock remains stationary, the headstock of the Swiss lathe moves along the Z-axis. The motion of the bar acts as the feed for material removal.

    The brilliance of the Swiss method is that it eliminates deflection because the bar stock is never in a cantilevered position and all the stock removal occurs immediately at the exit of the collet.

    This architecture and process, along with a robust set of turning tools, produce many of the advantages of Swiss screw machining. For example:
    • Because the Swiss machine fabricates parts by moving the material and tool simultaneously, uptime is increased and tool wear rates are reduced.
    • The close geometry of the machine — which allows the tool to work within millimeters of the workpiece — reduces chip-to-chip time to a second or less.
    Another significant improvement in the industry has been the design of CNC Swiss machines that can accommodate 20 or more tools in the tool zone, many with live tooling.

    This array of tools combined with a sub-spindle and back working stations can virtually eliminate the need for secondary operations on complex parts — allowing Swiss screw machines to often produce finished, ready-to-ship components.

    How Does A Swiss Machine Ensure Quality And Precision In The Final Product?

    Because a workpiece that is subjected to force will deflect, most cutting machines (such as lathes) must make several slow passes to remove material. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the more passes, the greater the margin of error, particularly over long lengths (generally, diameter ratios greater than 3:1).

    This would have been an especially big concern for those old-time Swiss watchmakers, who needed to turn long, thin parts. It isn’t surprising, then, that the chucking collet, which provides stability to the workpiece, was patented in the 1870s and is still part of Swiss machines.

    Today, the efficiency and accuracy of the modern Swiss screw machine greatly depend on the guide bushing, which provides rigidity to the material by supporting it close to the tool.

    This effectively reduces deflection to zero, which means the cutting tool can make one deep pass rather than several shallow ones — reducing tool wear rates and making for more consistency and accuracy.