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What You Need to Know About Swiss Screw Machining

What is swiss screw machining

Swiss screw machining is a machining process used to produce high quantities of precision parts. Automatic lathes, called Swiss screw machines can be programmed to produce various precision metal and plastic parts. These machines can run 24/7 to increase production speed and lower costs.

At Spex, we use a variety of precision machining equipment and screw machines, including CNC Swiss screw machines, Davenport screw machines, and multi-spindle screw machines. Each type of machine has different capabilities and benefits.

Swiss screw machining is a manufacturing process that produces large quantities of components, while maintaining very high accuracy, repeatability, and tight tolerances.

In this article, we’ll explain the capabilities, benefits, and everything else you need to know about Swiss screw machining.

Brief overview of Swiss screw machining

Screw machines have been used since the late 1800s to mass-produce high-quality parts. They were developed to produce high quantities of screws, and small precision parts. These machines were originally developed for precision watch parts in Switzerland, which is how they got the name. 

The continuous operation and high volume production capabilities were revolutionary.

In the 1960s, Swiss screw machines gained more momentum. They’re no longer used for manufacturing screws, but Swiss screw machining is used worldwide to produce millions of precision metal and non-metal components. Swiss machining is used to produce complex parts with extreme precision and great efficiency. 

Swiss screw machining is also called Swiss Turning, or Swiss Automatic Machining. 

How do Swiss screw machines work?

The Swiss screw machining process starts by programming the part design into the machine using CNC controls. This tells the machine the exact dimensions to cut and drill into the raw material to form the part.

Once the measurements are inputted, raw metal, or bar stock, is loaded into a bar feeder. The bar feeder holds a large amount of bar stock which can keep the machine running for hours and complete high-volume orders quickly without much human intervention.

The bar feeder moves a spinning round bar through the collet, which holds the material as the different features are machined. 

The spinning chuck grabs the raw material and pulls it out to the determined part length.Then the collet clamps the part and holds it while it’s machined. A guide bushing is used to minimize the space between the main spindle and the cutting tools. When that part is complete, the finished product cut off from the bar stock, and the bar feeder advances the material to start machining the next part.

Swiss screw machine
Swiss screw machines

Benefits of Swiss screw machining

Swiss screw machining offers great benefits to manufacturers that need bulk precision machined parts. Swiss screw machining is an advanced manufacturing method that offers increased efficiency, material and design diversity compared to other machines.

Here are a few reasons why you might choose Swiss screw machining for your next project. 

Efficiency

Swiss screw machines can work on multiple parts at the same time, giving them a big advantage for high-volume orders. Multi spindle Swiss screw machines do this by performing a variety of cuts, slotting, and drilling simultaneously. Each spindle has a unique cutting tool that forms one feature of the part. Then, the spindles rotate and form the feature on the next part, until it’s complete. This eliminates the need for further machining and drastically increases production speed. 

A typical multi-spindle machines has 6 main spindles, allowing a single machine to machine 6 parts in the time it usually takes to machine one part. 

After the machine is programmed with the part specifications, the machines can run continuously, sometimes up to 12+ hours, minimizing the need for operators and completing big projects faster.

Lower manufacturing costs​

Swiss screw machines are more efficient and require fewer man hours to produce high quantities of parts. This process isn’t ideal for making a handful prototype parts. But when thousands of identical parts are needed, the process becomes faster and much less expensive.

This is ideal for industries who need highly precise parts and want to keep costs as low as possible. The automotive, aerospace, defense, and medical industries all benefit from the lower costs and can pass the savings on the consumer. 

Reduced waste

CNC machining is always a reductive manufacturing process. This means that metal is removed from the raw material to produce the finished product. This produces scrap metal, which is collected in scrap metal bins and recycled.

The capabilities of Swiss screw machines help reduce waste by maintaining high precision and lowering the number of mistakes and parts that are unusable by customer. Because Swiss screw machines can perform multiple functions simultaneously, there are also fewer labor hours spent on production.

Material diversity

Swiss screw machines are capable of machining various grades of metal, and polycarbonate and plastic parts with high precision.

Spex uses Swiss screw machines to manufacture parts using a wide variety of metals and polycarbonates. We use a variety of metals including: 

  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Brass
  • Carbon Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • and more

This versatility allows our clients to choose the material that best fits their project. The lower levels of deflection during the machining process also allow for high precision while machining difficult materials such as Hastelloy and stainless steel.

Design diversity

The capabilities of Swiss screw machines are much more advanced than the original machines used in the 1800s. Today, they can cut and drill parts with extreme precision, often reaching a ±0.005mm (0.0002in) tolerance.

Swiss screw machining offers greater design diversity allowing engineers and designers to explore different options to improve performance and reduce cost. These machines can create components that are too expensive or otherwise impossible for traditional machining techniques, such as very small or complicated parts with multiple surface features.

Most of the parts manufactured on a Swiss-style machine are smaller (1-1.25″ diameter) and cylindrical. Swiss screw machines are used to manufacture precision pins, housings, connectors, and fittings. 

One of the most important benefits of a Swiss screw machine is that it can keep long, slender parts very stable as they’re being machined. These precision components are used in a wide range of applications in the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries.

High precision

Swiss screw machines can perform very precise cuts and drills because the guide bushing supports the part exceptionally well.

This machining process is one of the most precise for machining smaller parts that would normally vibrate during the machining process. The part surface can also be finished by the screw machine, eliminating the need for a second finishing operation. Depending on the tooling, they can spin parts at 10,000 RPM and cut and drill parts within a 0.005mm (0.0002in) tolerance.

Using a Swiss screw machines is more precise compared to a turret machine because of the precise calculations of the CNC controller, which adjusts and corrects tooling operations while it’s running.

Swiss screw machining capabilities

There are many applications that a CNC Swiss screw machine can be used for, and one of the industries that depend on it the most is the automotive industry. This is because Swiss Screw Machine can produce high quantities of precision parts at low costs.

The electronics industry also takes advantage of Swiss screw machines to manufacture small, intricate parts with lots of features. A variety of different metals and materials are used in electronics, so it’s a major benefit to these companies that the Swiss screw machine accommodates different materials.

Industries that use Swiss screw machined parts

Any industry that uses high quantities of small precision parts will benefit from the capabilities of Swiss screw machines.

Spex produces a huge variety of quality parts with our Swiss screw machines. Some of these parts include:

  • Spacers
  • Pins
  • Housings
  • Screws
  • Connectors
  • Sleeves

These parts are used in a wide range of industries, which include:

  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Defense
  • Aerospace

Swiss screw machining plays an essential role in the efficient supply chain management for our customers, and supports many cutting edge consumer products.

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Office:
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