CNC Lathe Machines — What You Need to Know

Automation technology plays a substantial role in modern industrial production. Computer numerical control (CNC) machining has long been one of the driving forces of automation in the manufacturing sector, as the various CNC processes allow businesses to produce large volumes of high-quality, accurate, and repeatable goods in complex shapes. Learn more about lathe machining and the advantages of the process for diverse industries.

How CNC Lathes Operate

While manual lathing processes require an expert machinist to make high-quality cuts, CNC lathe machining achieves unmatched precision and repeatability. In CNC lathe operations, a computer translates a part’s design into highly detailed instructions that the automated lathe machine will follow exactly. Directing the movement of the rotating workpiece and cutting tools, these pre-programmed instructions detail the required cutting path of the tool, along with the proper depth, velocity, and other factors to generate a part per your specifications.

CNC lathes are quite versatile, facilitating the following processes:

  • Cutting and shaping. Lathing machines apply one or more stationary cutting tools against a rotating workpiece. As part of the subtractive manufacturing process, the tools carve away excess material with precision to leave behind a cylindrical part in the exact desired shape, with a central axis of symmetry. Common examples of lathed components include shafts, gears, and axles.
  • Drilling. When you secure a drill bit to a lathe, you can then drill circular holes in a workpiece. These holes are useful for fasteners like screws and bolts.
  • Facing. Facing tools on the lathe’s mounting system generate uniform cuts on the surface of a workpiece, generally decreasing the part’s length.
  • Knurling. Utilizing a roller with raised spikes, knurling processes pierce holes in a workpiece to texturize its surface.
  • Sanding. This finishing process creates a smooth surface on a part by rotating a workpiece pressed against an abrasive material or tool.


The CNC lathe machining process is compatible with a wide range of materials, including:

  • Stainless steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Cold rolled steel
  • Hot rolled steel
  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Plastics
  • Reinforced epoxy (FR4)

Applications of CNC Lathe Machines

CNC lathe machining is a versatile, effective production option across major industries. Some of the markets that use CNC lathing to produce high-quality components include the following:

  • Aerospace. The aerospace industry demands tight-tolerance components to safely fulfill the needs of mission-critical applications, and CNC lathing can successfully achieve that.
  • Automotive. Pistons, gears, brake drums, and shafting parts for vehicles are all components that CNC lathe machining can create uniformly.
  • Electronics. The small and intricate components within electronic devices require precision manufacturing. CNC lathing makes heat sinks, shafts, and more.
  • Medical. Precision devices are essential for healthcare applications, and CNC lathing is capable of producing everything from surgical tools to implants for the medical sector.
  • General manufacturing. CNC lathing supports the manufacturing market by creating cylindrically shaped parts in high volumes for diverse industries.

Advantages of CNC Lathe Machines

Some of the key benefits of using CNC lathing are:

  • Superior accuracy. One of the main benefits of CNC lathing is that computer-controlled lathes generate precise, repeatable, high-quality parts with tight tolerances.
  • Enhanced productivity and efficiency. Automated CNC lathes operate at high speeds without needing breaks or vacations like human workers, making lathing a good choice for high-volume projects. Lathing streamlines production, delivering optimal efficiency and throughput.
  • Complexity. CNC lathing equipment can produce components with highly complex designs and shapes as well as intricate details, especially compared to manual alternatives.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Automated machining is more precise and less reliant on manual labor, which means you’ll benefit from decreased labor costs and material waste.
  • Safety. As automated CNC lathes only require minimal human intervention to operate, they are much safer and less likely to cause worker injuries.

CNC Lathe Machining From H&S Manufacturing

Providing high-quality contract manufacturing services since 1968, H&S Manufacturing Co. specializes in precision CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, laser cutting, testing, finishing, final assembly, and more to create innovative, comprehensive solutions for our clients. Our ITAR-compliant, well-equipped facility features advanced, specialized machinery to support our custom manufacturing capabilities, integrating CNC and laser cutting. In addition to CNC lathes, we operate vertical and horizontal CNC machining centers, lasers, and brake, drill, and punch presses. Our expert team produces CNC-machined parts in dimensions of up to 24″ x 24″ x 12″ with tight tolerances of ±0.001″ (0.0254 mm).

Contact us to learn more about our extensive CNC capabilities, or request a quote on our lathe machining services today.

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