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Types of lathe machine and their uses

We have seen the overview of a welding process, Arc welding process, Gas welding process types of flames in Gas welding and Difference between Arc welding and Gas welding, difference between DC  welding and AC welding, soldering and brazing, common welding defects and Safety precautions and PPE required during welding activities with the help of our previous posts.

Now we will start a new topic i.e. Machining where we will see first the various types of lathe machine and their uses in the machining process. 

Let us first see here what the machining process is ? 

Machining is a process of shaping the given workpiece into required size and shape with the help of a machine tool. The most widely used machine tool is a Lathe. 

Lathe is a machine tool which shapes a product by removing extra material from it in the

form of chips by rotating the work against a single point tool. The work is clamped either in a

chuck or in between the centers. The most common type of surface produced is cylindrical in


Figure : Lathe Machine 

Types of lathe machine  

There are various types of lathes which differ in size, design, purpose, method of drive, etc. 

  1. Speed lathe 

  2. Engine lathe 

  3. Bench lathe 

  4. Tool room lathe 

  5. Capstan and turret lathe 

  6. Special purpose lathe

Speed lathe 

The speed lathe is the simplest form of all lathes. It has only a few parts such as headstock, tailstock, and tool post mounted on a light bed. It has no gear box, leadscrew and carriage. These lathes are basically used for wood turning, metal spinning and polishing.

Engine lathe 

It derives its name from the early lathes that were driven by steam engines. An engine lathe has the compound rest, carriage, leadscrew, feed rod, and the gearbox in addition to the headstock, tailstock and the bed. 

It may be a belt driven lathe or motor driven lathe. The lead screw is used in cutting threads, whereas the feed rod is used in automatic feed of the carriage or the tool.

Bench lathe 

A bench lathe is a small lathe mounted on a bench. It performs all operations of an engine lathe. It is used mainly for small precision work, the only difference is in size.

Tool room lathe

A tool room lathe is similar in appearance to a center lathe, but it is built more accurately and has a wide range of speeds and is equipped with many extra accessories and attachments. It is mostly used for precision work on tools, jigs, dies, etc.

The capstan and turret lathe

These are the development of the engine lathe and are used for production work. The main features of this type of lathe is that the tailstock of an engine lathe is replaced by a hexagonal turret. A number of identical parts can be produced in the minimum time.

Special purpose lathe

The special purpose lathe machines are specially designed for carrying out various operations that cannot be done by an ordinary lathe. 

The lathe which is especially designed for turning crankshafts is known as a crankshaft lathe. 

The lathe which is powerful, massive and capable of turning axles is known as axle lathe or wheel lathe. 

Lathes which are used for duplicating profiles are known as duplicating lathes. 

The lathe in which various movements to the slides are given by electric motors which are controlled by the codes punched on tape is known as Numerical Control (NC) lathe. The NC lathe can do all operations which can be done on an ordinary lathe. The cutting tools are preset to the positions specified by the NC programmer.

We will now see the different parts of the lathe machine and their functions.


Engineering Practices By Mr. S. Suyambazhahan

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