The Basic Guide To Swiss CNC Turning

by Thomas E.

Much like CNC milling, CNC turning is a subtractive manufacturing process that works by removing materials from a workpiece until the desired shape is achieved. The process is used for manufacturing high-quality and precise parts. There are two primary forms of CNC turning: conventional CNC turning and Swiss turning. This post provides you with a guide to swiss turning. 

What is CNC swiss turning?

CNC swiss turning refers to a specialized process of producing small, high precision, turned parts. This technique was developed in the 19th century when the Swiss Crew machine (swiss lathe), was manufactured. The name “Swiss turning” was acquired from the fact that the device was created in Switzerland. It was designed to facilitate the mass production of miniature screws used for supporting the growing watch industry in Switzerland.

How do swiss turning machines work?

The functioning of swiss turning machines is not that much different from conventional turning machines. However, in swiss turning centers, a moving headstock is applied.

Here, the workpiece is clamped on a component known as the chuck or collet. This component is found in the headstock. The workpiece is located towards the tooling area via a guide bushing. The movement or rotation of the workpiece is facilitated by headstock movements along the z-axis with the bar stock. Note that the bar is usually radially and precisely located.

It is also worth noting that the turning tools are usually carried on the gang slide. This means that they can contact the workpiece closely. Also, the movement of the spindle and the guide bush supply provides continuous feeding.

The difference between swiss turning machines and conventional turning

Below are some significant differences between standard turning and swiss turning;

  • In conventional turning, a fixed headstock is applied. Here, the bar stock is clamped in a collet or chuck. This extends the enclosure of the device, which will be supported with a tailstock on the end. On the other hand, swiss turning machines or lathes feature movable headstocks.
  • In traditional turning, the workpiece is stabilized in the main spindle’s collet. This element is not ideal for long parts because it fosters material deflection. On the other hand, the collet can slide along the headstock behind the guide bushing in swiss turning. This allows the cutting tool to operate near the guide bushing. This element helps prevent deflection and achieve desired tolerances.
  • Traditional turning machines feature three to four axes. This means that their capabilities are limited. On the other hand, swiss turning machines have five or more axes. This means that they can perform multiple operations in one machining cycle.
  • Additionally, the cycle time of swiss lathes is lower than conventional turning.
  • In conventional turning, water is applied as a coolant. On the other hand, in swiss turning, the coolant liquid of choice is oil.


Swiss turning, also known as swiss lathe, is generally more efficient and beneficial than conventional turning. This is because of the speed of the process, the technique, the parts quality, and the application of five or more axes.

You may also like

Leave a Comment