The lathe is a versatile tool that is used in many different applications. Let’s take a closer look at what this type of equipment allows you to do.
The lathe is one of the first “complex” tools made by man, at least on a conceptual level, and was born immediately after the discovery of the wheel, of which it is a direct derivation.
The first examples made date back to prehistory, in fact, and obviously we refer to potter’s lathes; the real potential of this tool, however, remained extremely limited as regards applications until the tool was finally motorized. The manual potter’s wheel and other traditional specimens for specific uses still survive today, but most modern lathes now are all equipped with engines and equipped with electronic control components.
How does it work
In traditional models such as the potter’s wheel, or ceramic lathe as it is often called, the rotary movement takes place around the vertical axis; the piece to be worked, that is the clay mass, is placed on the wheel which is made to rotate more or less quickly in order to exploit the rotary motion to facilitate the modeling of the vessel. As a result, the applications of the potter’s wheel are essentially reduced to the modeling of the clay and its subsequent decoration.
With technological progress and the invention of new increasingly robust and resistant metal alloys, as well as electric and induction motors, the lathe has found a whole series of new and important applications, both in the craft and domestic sector and in the professional field and above all industrial. The first revolution, especially in the industrial sector, took place thanks to the developments in mechanical engineering. The parallel lathe was created, in which the rotation movement was transferred from the vertical to the horizontal axis.
The parallel lathe, in fact, allows a type of processing where the piece, instead of being placed on a planar platform, is placed and rotated longitudinally between two tailstocks. This feature, together with the use of the engine, has made it possible to process other materials besides clay, especially wood for example, as well as plastics, metals, and even glass and crystal.
The creation of the object
All the turning operations, therefore, culminate in a single creative process, which is basically the modeling of a piece from which, thanks to a high-speed rotary movement, the material is removed with the aid of a chisel or another tool. cut. Consequently, both those intended for hobby use, which among other things are the best-selling lathes since DIY is one of the largest market segments and those used in the professional sector, are used for operations such as roughing, sanding, polishing and painting of pieces of various kinds and materials.
This applies to all specimens of lathe regardless of size, of course, and the differences are only in the area of use, the parallel lathes are used by both hobbyists and professionals in fact. In the industrial sector, however, where the machining or grinding of large pieces is required, gigantic lathes are used, but they are mainly used by the heavy industry, the aerospace industry and in shipyards.
Hobbyists like model enthusiasts, on the other hand, are used to using small lathes suitable for the scale of measurement of the pieces to be machined; the same applies to craftsmen and professionals.
The various types of processing
Another particular series of turning operations are threading, drilling, and boring, which are aimed at creating and grinding pieces intended for precision mechanics.
The thread, also known as bread, is, in any case, a material removal operation, but unlike the simple removal aimed at modeling a single piece, the thread has as its purpose the creation of a shape capable of creating a coupling between two distinct and separate pieces, which is why it requires extreme precision and rigorous compliance with the millimeter-level measurements because the coupling is of the helical type and must ensure that the two pieces fit perfectly without creating play or impediments.
The threading must, therefore, be performed externally on one piece and internally on another; the external thread, therefore, serves to make the screws, while the internal thread is called a nut and is usually performed on annular or hexagonal-shaped pieces, such as for example nuts.
The drilling is used to drill holes, whose shape can be conical or cylindrical and whose diameter can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters, depending on the piece to be worked; boring, on the other hand, is an operation that takes place after drilling, as it has the final purpose of rectifying the diameter and axial line of the holes.
To create certain types of pieces, such as the nuts mentioned above, all three of these operations must necessarily be carried out, in addition in the correct order of succession, namely drilling, reaming and threading; if the piece needs to be ground, instead, only reaming or threading is practiced.
The special cases
The lathe ( the best models ) also makes further operations possible, but they are of a highly specialized type and for this reason the lathes used are made according to very specific characteristics that limit their application to certain fields.
A classic example is the lathe for phonographic engravings, also known as the phono engraver, which is designed and used exclusively to engrave the dies which will then be used as masters in the mass production of vinyl records. It is almost superfluous to add that, as a consequence, sound recorders are used exclusively in the music recording industry.
The copying lathe also falls into the category of specimens for specific use, and in fact it is a particular variant of the lathe used for the series production of identical pieces, based on a previously worked prototype. Special additional mechanisms are applied to these lathes which allow them to reproduce the shape and features of the prototype piece exactly.