The Value of Swiss Screw Machining

Swiss Screw Machining
23 Apr,2018

The Value of Swiss Screw Machining


Swiss screw machining offers a variety of capabilities, from prototyping through high quality production.


Swiss screw machining and how a screw machine works


The process of creating parts that can be turned is deceptively simple. Screw machines provide a valuable form of automation. For one, they provide a quick mass production need. They also fulfill very precise and custom orders.


Screw machines come in two different styles: turrets and Swiss screw machines. Turrets can also be referred to as Brown and Sharpe, the original screw machine model. Despite is more rudimentary form, turret screw machines are still widely used, but they cannot accommodate micro-sized units.


If you want the most precise proto-typing or custom assembly, then Swiss screw machining is the only way to go. If you’re unconvinced how much of a difference that Swiss machine can make, keep reading. We’ll explain how a Swiss screw machine works and how your assembly can benefit.


Different Types of Swiss Screw Machining


You can find Swiss screw machines in two categories: automated and CNC. The differences aren’t so obvious as the names suggest. Automatic machines use a disc cam, this hands off the tools into the bay where work begins.


A collet stabilizes the work piece itself, while the disc cams rotate and level the headstock for precision. This whole process happens quickly and tightly, preventing common flaws created by debris coming in contact with the work piece.


CNC Swiss machines may look the same at first glance, but they operate much differently. The CNC adjusts on the fly and dictates the direction of the turning machines. This also allows for more tooling options for the manufacturer.



The CNC is perfect for multi-step tooling needs, as it can switch operations as needed and get all the work done in one sitting. Yes, automatics can do this, too, but the CNC moves much faster and more accurately. They are rated at 10,000 revolutions per minute and a precision of up to 0.0002 inches.


Savings with Swiss Screw Machines


We’ve gone over the differences between the two Swiss machines, but both offer more cost savings, depending on the project. This is for two reasons: the unparalleled precision and the reduction of oversight needed. Once set, these machines are so reliable that only one supervisor really needs to be present.


The only potential drawback may be in the time needed to program and prepare the machines for each project. It might take over an hour to set up, so if the work is only for a short run, it might look like an expensive investment. It’s easy for outsiders to overlook its advantages when it’s not as readily apparent on paper.


How Does a Screw Machine Work?


The reason why Swiss screw machining takes so long to setup is that programmers have to re-learn machine behaviors and functions. For instance, a CNC Swiss screw machine moves along the Z-axis via the stock, rather than the tool. This runs contrary to most lathes, where the stock is offset by a set length.


This means instead of the turning tool moving independently, the stock is in motion, so deeper cuts and passes need to be programmed as a negative, rather than a positive command. For those who aren’t familiar with programming, this isn’t a difficult adjustment, however, it does require retraining your brain.


Order of Operations


Not only is the motion of the machining process flipped upside-down, the order of cuts is totally different. Standard lathe is rough, or first turn, the finish turn, then your threading and OD grooves. Swiss machining adds in some more steps and reverses the order, essentially.


Each step progresses in quarter-inch increments, from the guide brushing size. OD groove, machining, and then OD turning, and back to guide brushing. The guide brush has to be the perfect size for all these steps to work seamlessly.


What the guide brush is made out of also needs to be taken into account. Swiss carbide tooling is among the best for most projects. The right guide brush gives highly precise cuts that don’t risk tool marks or poorly refined edges. This is especially true for small objects with thin margins and intricate tooling.


Productivity can increase greatly because the machining can be sped up without fear of ruining consistency. Prototypes can be manufactured on a short notice and in high volumes.


Oil Over Water


The reason a Swiss machine is able to maintain higher speed and precision is due to using superior lubricant. Instead of water, it uses oil as the cutting fluid. The benefits are many, including more fluid motions and anti-bacterial properties. This reduces the level of maintenance on the machines.


Oil is a double-edged sword on operating and supervising, though. While it is great at speeding things up, it’s not as effective at cooling things down. Water dissipates heat much faster, so a Swiss machine will generate a lot more heat in the center of the work area.


While this should not be considered a deal-breaker, safety precautions must be in-place. Fire-proofing and training supervisors is a must. I guess you could say that is one perk of using traditional screw machines.


Swiss Machined Parts


Now that you have an idea about how Swiss screw machines operate, are you ready to see the difference? Our screw machines can handle virtually any material–and we control the entire process from start to finish. High volume production is handled with precision and custom assembly.


Multiple parts can be created in the same cycle. Ask about our selective gold plating options, for those who need something a little extra. From hundreds of units to tens of thousands, our team of experienced engineers will work with you to meet your design requirements.


Contact us today for more information on how to save money without compromising on quality.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *