CNC Turning Or Manual Turning – When Should I Use Them?

CNC Turning Or Manual Turning – When Should I Use Them?

“We’re going to become caretakers for the robots. That’s what the next generation of work is going to be.” – Gray Scott

Artificial intelligence is becoming an integral part of many industries. When it comes to spare part manufacturing or prototyping, computer-controlled machines are now widely used.

The benefits of CNC turning over the manual turning process are numerous. However, manual turning is still applicable to many projects. So, what is the difference between them and when should you choose one over the other?

What Is CNC Turning?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. CNC turning is a precision engineering process based on software operating a lathe. Modern technology coupled with skilled operators allows companies to manufacture custom components for different equipment by simply flipping a switch.

Briefly, an operator programs the machine to create a certain part, and the rest is done without human assistance. The lathe locks the material and rotates it while it’s being machined, cut, and bored to create the necessary component. CNC turning provides manufacturers a chance to create highly precise patterns and details. The speed and output of the machine can be adjusted manually.

What Is Manual Turning?

The manual turning process is similar. The material is rotated by the lathe while the tools shape it to suit the project specs. Shaping requires the assistance of an operator.

Continuous monitoring is essential for operators to achieve precision and avoid mistakes. Manual turning machine technicians should have experience working with different materials since each one needs a special approach.

The Machine Matters

Even though CNC turning machines are more expensive and sophisticated than manual lathes, the quality of the machine still matters. While trying to save money, some companies invest in cheaper CNC turning machines which don’t have sufficient options for some projects.

That’s why before choosing which method to use, it’s important to find out which CNC machine is right for the job.

Manual turning machines are cheaper and not as complex. However, a low-quality turning lathe can produce inadequate results regardless of the operator’s experience.

Overall, a high-quality manual turning machine is always better than a cheap CNC turning lathe.

CNC vs Manual Turning

If CNC turning is so successful, why doesn’t everyone use it? For some projects, manual turning is a better choice than CNC. Generally, these are low volume projects when a single or detailed part needs to be manufactured, where the time spent setting and programming a CNC machine is outweighed by the low volume required.

If you have a batch production order, CNC turning is the best way to go since it allows the production of thousands of identical components.

In some cases, manual turning may be necessary to alter parts after CNC turning and vice versa. Accordingly, it’s always better to choose a company which has access to both lathe types.

At Woodley Engineering, we work with CNC and manual turning machines to bring our clients components their equipment needs the most.

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