Flatbed lathes are widely used in heavy-duty turning offering a reliable, stable and powerful machining process with high productivity.
Flatbed lathes machine configuration
Heavy duty and flatbed lathes have extremely high stability but have a more limited tool changing and indexing possibility compared to slantbed turning centres and vertical lathes. Large component/swing diameters combined with long lengths make steady rest and tailstock a standard fixture.
Flatbed lathes are generally considered easier to accommodate the loading and unloading of large components. A "gap" between the headstock and bed can also be useful to permit increased component swing diameters – leading to the name "gap bed lathes".
Large machines often have large bore headstocks and some headstocks can have double chucks fitted to permit through headstock loading.
The bed lengths are often well over four meters and easily permit the use of multiple steady-rests. However, it should be noted that these are often "fixed" steadies and normally cannot be used in the same way as the hydraulically operated "turn-through" types generally used on slantbed machines or turning centres (the slantbed design can also permit easier axial positioning).
Not all flatbed lathes are fitted with chip conveyors, therefore always consider chip removal possibilities. Sometimes front and rear conveyors are a good option to reduce downtime.