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4 Tips to Improve Heavy Turning

When turning large or heavy parts on a lathe you should consider some additional factors versus when you machine small- to medium-sized parts.

Lathe Stability is Vital

It’s important to make sure your lathe is large enough to handle the large part you’re turning. Any vibration due to unbalanced workholding can result in scrapped parts or deformation. You want to get this right in the beginning since metal for large parts is typically more expensive.

Another point to consider to help with stability is using the right chuck. The most important part of the chuck for large turning is using the right jaws. Hardened jaws support the heavy parts better and provide a better clamping force.

Support Your Heavy Parts

Heavy parts almost always need support by a steady rest or tailstock. Ideally, when using a steady rest, you should place it between the headstock dead center and tailstock live center. A well-balanced workpiece is critical to keep the part turning concentrically. Any imbalance should be corrected with a welded piece or some other counterbalance.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Turning large parts mean you will have lower RPMs, higher torque and larger tool inserts. You’ll find that heavier parts are more expensive to machine since these parts turn slower. There are fewer parts completed in the same amount of time.

Considerations for Material Handling

Heavy parts require more care when placing the workpiece in and removing the finished part out of the lathe. Cranes used to put the workpiece in place are key to effective alignment. The goal with placing the workpiece is to minimize any strain. Multiple workers may be required to get the part set correctly. Don’t risk worker safety in an effort to quickly place the workpiece. Small parts might pinch a finger, but a large part can do significant damage. Finally, carefully removing a heavy part from the lathe is just as important to avoid damage after the part is successfully turned. You don’t want to ruin a part in removal after it was perfectly machined.

Large part turning on a lathe can require more planning, steps and time. However, if done right can be a very lucrative enterprise. For more details about what you need to turn large parts, contact your LeBlond Ltd. representative.

Chips from Lathes Turning Heavy Parts