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Hartford Technologies Blog

The Difference Between CNC Swiss Machines and Standard CNC Machinery

Posted: Jan 12, 2023 2:18:53 PM

Unlike traditional machining, CNC machines use a computer program that is self-automated to produce necessary parts. CNC machines have applications in high-end industries like aerospace, automotive, and electronic manufacturing.

A rather common and specialized form of the CNC machine is the CNC Swiss machine. The difference? A CNC Swiss machine is a smaller, more meticulous version, specifically designed for producing high-precision parts.

CNC Machining: An Overview

CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. It is an automated method of manufacturing that makes use of computer software in order to maximize production. With CNC machining, businesses can create custom products from a variety of materials such as metal, wood, plastic, or stone.

CNC machines are used to carve, drill, and shape parts in high-volume industries such as automotive, aerospace, and medical equipment. These programmable machines can cut out shapes or create specific features on an object. The accuracy of the cuts provided by these machines makes them useful for both prototypes and final products.

Traditional CNC machines work similarly to robots, meaning the machine operator programs it with specific details on how to move the part and use the cutting tool accurately. 

Once the machine starts, it will complete all the cuts automatically without any human interference. The only instance a human touch would be necessary is when programming the machine or changing out the cutting tool. If something goes wrong during operation, such as not hitting its mark exactly right, the machine will automatically stop itself. This way, no damage occurs during the machining process.

Types of CNC Machines

CNC machines can be used for a variety of purposes, including milling, drilling, and turning parts with movement sequences. A programmer creates the sequence in CAD software, which transfers it to the computer via G-code.

The four most common kinds of CNC machines are:

  • Mills
  • Lathes
  • Drill presses
  • Swiss machines

Machinists also refer to CNC Swiss machining as Swiss turning. Mills, lathes, and drills have been around since before computers were invented, so they are all available as manual machines. A CNC machine simply automates the process.

CNC Mills are one of the most popular forms of CNC machines. This machine shapes materials by spinning a cutting tool and moving the part around it.

A CNC Lathe is useful for longer cylindrical shapes. Lathes work by spinning the part rather than the cutting tool. The machine then moves the cutting tool against the part.

CNC Drill Presses drill holes into a part rather than changing the exterior shape. Similar to a mill, this kind of machine moves the part into position. However, the cutting tool is a drill bit which typically moves up and down to drill holes.

CNC Swiss Machines, also called Swiss screw machines, create more precise cuts by reducing the force applied to a part. This kind of machine combines aspects of several other CNC machines.

Like a lathe, a Swiss machine rotates the part it cuts. However, the machine also moves the part back and forth against a spinning cutting tool. By increasing the paths of movement for a part, Swiss machines offer more precise machining tolerances.

CNC Swiss Machines vs Standard CNC Machinery

When it comes to comparing standard CNC machines and Swiss machines, there are a few key differences to consider:

  • CNC Swiss machines are generally more expensive than standard CNC machinery. This is because the machine moves more intricately than other CNC machines, and they are more expensive to manufacture.
  • CNC Swiss machines have more axes of movement. A normal CNC machine has up to three axes (X, Y, and Z), while a standard Swiss machine has as many as five.
  • Precision. With so many axes being controlled by one machine, the tolerances are much tighter than those of a standard model.
  • With CNC Swiss machining, manufacturers can produce parts as small as 0.008". For this kind of micromachining, tolerances can often be as tight as .0002".

Benefits of CNC Swiss Machines

As the name suggests, CNC Swiss machines' first intended use was Swiss watchmaking. Today, machinists use Swiss machines to manufacture many parts with extremely high precision.

The Swiss machining process is also more efficient than standard machining because there is less manual labor involved. Additionally, Swiss CNC machines can use as many as twenty tools at the same time, allowing for multiple processes with less downtime.

Precision CNC Machining Services

CNC Swiss machines are more expensive than standard CNC machinery, but they offer some significant benefits as they can be used for a broader range of applications.

With Hartford Technologies’ opening of our latest CNC facilities, our team offers expanded services from our CNC mill, lathe, drill press, and swiss machines. Contact us today to learn more about our precision machining capabilities.