Swiss Machines – an introduction
So to answer the question ‘what are swiss machines’ – Swiss machining is a high precision manufacturing process. It is used to make parts with CNC controlled lathes, rotating the part using a specialized tool. This type of tooling allows the Swiss machine to perform a number of operations at once, therefore cutting down the time it takes to machine a component.
The History of Swiss Machines
The Swiss-style of machining is credited to Jakob Schweizer, a well-known watchmaker who lived and worked in the Bienne region of Switzerland. He perfected the process in between 1872 and 1873. His main breakthrough was the sliding headstock; which gave simultaneous rotation of the material together with longitudinal movement and radial tool holders. This allowed rapid forwards and backward movements.
By the late 1870s, the industrialist Nicolas Junker produced this on a larger, industrial scale. In fact, the Bienne area remains a hub for the Swiss watchmaking industries with industry leaders Rolex, Swatch, Omega headquartered there.
Modern CNC Swiss machining offers a wide range of advantages and capabilities. Static and rotating side and end-mounted tools allow us to eleminate overhang and part deflection, which allows us to carry out turning of long parts with fast turnarounds with or without the need for end (quill) support. Plus multiple axis and driven tools enable us to carry out non-turning operations such as milling, drilling, and tapping.
Which industries require Swiss Machines
We are able to machine down to 0.0004 and surface finishes of 8RA, providing simultaneous machining with a high level of precision on multi-faceted parts.
Swiss machining is used in the following industry-specific applications:
- Aerospace industry
- Components used in the Watch industry
- Optical measurement components
- Medical/Surgical tools
- Medical/Surgical devices
- Guidance Systems
- Micro Computer fittings and connectors
- Robotic mechanisms
- Fuel systems
- Defense systems
- Tool and die making
What materials can Swiss machines use?
Swiss machining can be used to machine a large range of raw materials:
- Stainless Steel
- Carbon Steel
- Titanium Alloys
Some Typical Swiss Machining applications
- Door & Window Hardware
- Fiber Optics
- Fluid Power Systems
- Furniture/Office Equipment
- Instrumentation Components
- Lawn & Garden Machinery
- Molded Inserts
- Motion & Control Systems
- Musical Instruments
- Recreational Products
- Precision electronic hardware
Advantages of Swiss Machining
Ability to machine smaller, more complex parts
Although other types of machines are still capable of machining small parts with tight tolerances, they fall down when it comes to overall capabilities and the time taken to produce a part. Traditional machines the tool is introduced to the workpiece and has to work around it. Whereas the Swiss machine delivers the workpiece to the tool, allowing for more intricate, complicated to be produced to better tolerances and at higher speeds.
Long, slender components or small parts with complex profiles can be machined from bar stock including the following in a single step:
- Part Profile
- Both Ends
- Internal/external milled features
- Broached features
This applies to many types of components over a wide range of industries.
Ability to perform simultaneous turning and milling
The workpiece moves rather than the tool, this allows for greater versatility and diversity in the type of machining that can be carried out in one single process. Both turning and milling can be completed with the Swiss machine.
Reduced Cycle Times
Swiss machining’s unique ability of one-step completion and the ability of the workpiece to move around the tool gives it the advantage of reduced cycle times for greater efficiency. The software we use in our machines also speeds up the process setup, allowing our programmers to watch a part being run using a simulation. This makes setup and corrections far easier and quicker, allowing for speedier machining of parts. Being CNC controlled means that legacy parts which were produced on previously created on older machines is far quicker.
Use less Barstock/Billet
Swiss machines can work on smaller workpieces so barstock required to work with a Swiss machine is reduced. Because this small barstock is less expensive, the resultant cost of producing the part is reduced.
Higher Length to Diameter ratios
Normally, the larger the length-to-diameter ratio, the less rigid the setup. However a Swiss machine allows for an extended length-to-diameter ratio, this is due to the way barstock is fed into the machine and the support provided by the guide bushing.
Range of Quantities
All the advantages to Swiss machines mean that the process lends itself to versatility. Depending on which industry you’re in, your lead times and sales cycle can very great, you could be in need of a few or even a few thousand parts, with our Swiss machines, we can fulfill diverse quantities of parts.
Value-added services to Swiss machining
We offer a number of allied services to Swiss machining:
- Heat treatment
- Laser Part Marking