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Screw machines are automated lathes which can machine turned parts. The appellation “screw machine” might be slightly misleading, as they don’t actually screw anything in, nor do they necessarily thread materials, although this is one of their functions. Essentially, they machine components by spinning on a very quickly rotating lathe, which shaves metal down to a desired size.
Different Types of Swiss Screw Machines
There are two main types of Swiss screw machines: automatic and CNC. The automatic screw machine functions with a disc cam, which rotates the tools to the work-piece bay. A collet holds the work-piece in place. The disc cams move the tools in a radial motion, but also alter headstock positioning in order to account for longitudinal discrepancies with the work-piece. The automatic Swiss screw machine features very close spindle collets, which prevent much deflected debris from becoming a problem.
Swiss- and Turret-Style Machines
Turret-type screw machines produce very similar results to Swiss-style machines, although the precision difference appears above. One advantage of the CNC Swiss screw machine is the fact that many more tooling fixtures can be applied, and, despite screw machines typically being “single spindle,” the possibility of a double spindle machine. This time saving feature effectively cuts out an operator, as the part is automatically transferred from the screw machine to another machine for secondary operations, for which an operator would normally be responsible. Turret-style screw machines come equipped with a transfer attachment that can also perform this function.
Current Swiss-style screw machines, of both types, are prevalent in the automotive, IT, and consumer electronic industries. High-quality designer Swiss watch production initially developed and utilized the Swiss-style machines, and this accuracy and delicacy is prized in many facilities. Due to quick production times and low variable costs, as well as their largely un-supervised production methods, Swiss screw machines can produce a large number of small, precision parts relatively quickly at low cost. Because Swiss machines can handle both exotic and common metals of varying strengths and composition, they are widely applicable and feature as integral processes in many different industries.
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