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CNC lathes

The basics of CNC lathes

A CNC lathe is an extremely useful machine for producing anything from industrial items to robotics parts.

A CNC lathe uses precise specifications from a computer programme to remove parts of a material to create the exact object specified. It can also be used to reverse engineer parts that have become obsolete or for which replacements are no longer available.

Companies like Endres Dies & Moulds South Africa rely on CNC lathes to produce precision parts for our customers.

What is a CNC lathe machine?

A CNC lathe is a machine that performs precision work on materials using computer numerical controls (CNC). The device holds and spins the material while shaping tools are mounted around it.

The cutting material is clamped in the machine and quickly spun on the spindle. Tools are placed in fixed positions around the material and are used to cut it. 

Because turning refers to the rotation of the part, CNC lathes may be referred to as CNC turning machines. The CNC lathe is controlled by a computer, which instructs the machine on how to cut and shape the material.

What materials can a CNC lathe work with?

CNC lathes are commonly used to work on various metals, some of which are softer to work with than others. Aluminium, brass, and steel are the most used materials. In addition, CNC lathes can cut wood, plastics, and foam.

What types of precision work can a CNC lathe perform?

CNC machining is a “subtractive” process, which means that you start with a material and remove parts to create the desired result. The CNC lathes can be programmed to carve almost any type of tool, including automobile frames and components, toys, gears, and cylindrical objects with both an inner and outer diameter.

In rare instances, CNC lathes are used to replicate or reverse engineer almost anything that fits within the parameters of the machine.

CNC lathe components

A CNC lathe is made up of several major components, each of which plays an important role.


The headstock, which houses the motor, is the first component of the lathe. This motor controls the main spindle, responsible for spinning the material to be cut. 

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