Advances in Swiss-Style Machining Make Shop Life Easier

The staff at Manufacturing Engineering interviewed our Swiss-machining specialist, Chris Leclerc, for an article entitled Swiss Machining Made Simple. The feature included discussion about Swiss-style machine tools and the advancements in making Swiss machining simpler.

A Swiss lathe is different from traditional lathes as it directs the material through a guide bushing and cuts the material near the bushing. This is what makes Swiss machining especially suitable for long and slender parts. However, the guide bushing is “where 80 percent of your problems happen,” such as out-of-roundness and tool chatter, according to Chris.

A way around this difficulty is by using a convertible Swiss machine which allows users to remove the guide bushing and move the chuck into its place. According to Chris, the “chucker mode” produces shorter parts with high accuracy in roundness, concentricity, and straightness. For shops with a mixture of short and long parts, the guide bushing can be reinstalled as needed.

Another advancement that is making Swiss-style machining easier relates to tooling and the lack of a tool touch probe. Shops can now work around this issue by using an offline tool presetter, which is a measurement device used to set up cutting tools before they are installed in the machine. Previously more common with non-Swiss-type machining, tool presetters have become increasingly popular with Swiss machine users along with quick-change tooling.

An important factor, when considering a Swiss-style machine, is that most machines don’t come with any type of software. Shops need to rely on third-party software to have the capability to output code for multiple machine types. With the right software, programming of Swiss machines has become easier. Programmers can now create programs for machines faster using CAM than they were 20 years ago, when everything was handwritten or cut-and-paste, recalled Chris. “In today’s world, a programmer could get by just relying on a CAM system and a ‘post’ to output the code needed.”

However, simple machine-specific software that some Swiss machine builders are installing in their machines may not include all the toolpaths offered by third-party CAM software such as Mastercam. “We have dozens of milling toolpaths for different applications,” he said. Simple machine-specific software may only have one or two milling toolpaths.

Through the collaborative efforts of Swiss machine manufacturers, CAM software developers, related products, and practical steps, Swiss machining has become easier than ever before for the operators, setup personnel, and programmers who work on these machines every day.

To learn more about Swiss solutions from Mastercam, contact your local Reseller.