New to Swiss-Type Turning

New to Swiss-Type Turning

Screw machine shops were the first to adopt multifunction CNC Swiss-type lathes. Today, an increasing number of “traditional” shops are considering this machining platform to, in some cases, produce complex parts complete, reducing setups, secondary operations and work-in-process. The goal in using this equipment is to minimize the number of times a part is touched during production.

That said, operators who are unfamiliar with these machines and their signature sliding-headstock design face a bit of a learning curve. This led me to wonder about what specifically needs to be pointed out to a person who either has some experience with conventional turning centers or no machining knowledge whatsoever. In order to get some suggestions, I recently visited Vallorbs, a manufacturing operation in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, that has a wealth of experience with Swiss-types.

Needles to Nuclear Parts

Kenneth Rinier, general manager, says the business started in the early 1900s and was originally named the Vallorbs Jewel Co. Early on, it specialized in manufacturing jeweled bearings for Swiss watches and the aircraft industry, as well as sapphire phonograph needles. Vallorbs currently produces parts for nuclear, agricultural, medical, aerospace, electronics and instrumentation applications in materials including stainless steel, titanium, Kovar and Inconel 718, as well as fire-Class-D metal zirconium, from which machining produces highly flammable chips.

Vallorbs is part of Valco Companies Inc., which manufactures high-end systems and components for commercial poultry, pig and egg production. Much of Vallorbs’ high-production work is dedicated to machining components for Valco’s products, such as trigger pins for water drinking systems for chickens. Mr. Rinier says the shop machines 600,000 pins per month using cam-actuated multi-spindle machines. The shop also has 40 cam-actuated single-spindle machines and seven 15-year-old CNC Swiss-types for other high-volume jobs. Mr. Rinier refers to those seven as the shop’s “vintage” Swiss-types. That’s because Vallorbs purchased seven new Swiss-types last October, six SB-20R and one SR-20J, from Star CNC Machine Tool.

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