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Machine tools and tooling considerations

Horizontal multi-task machines

Horizontal multi-task machines

In a multi-task machine, you can combine several cutting processes and set-ups in one single machine. Multi-task machines are very effective and can help you to reduce your cycle times and lead times. In a horizontal multi-task machine the component is rotating around a horizontal axis.


Horizontal multi-task machine configuration

The horizontal mill/turn machine is based on a lathe design. The component is rotating around a horizontal axis with the B-axis spindle above holding stationary and rotating tools.

Generally, the component has a large amount of machining to be carried out around the centre of symmetry. The components can range from just a few millimetres long up to 3 meters long (118 inch) and 600 mm (23.62 inch) in diameter.

Combining all operations on one machine is the primary benefit of this machine type, reducing component set-ups. Additionally, it can often be found to be used for its 5-axis machining capabilities.

To succeed with combining multiple and complex applications there are some key options that should be considered.


The mix of static and rotating tools requires the broadest spindle capability combining a traditional machining centre and a lathe. High bending stiffness, torque transmission and accurate tool centre position are why Coromant Capto® is the most common interface for this machine concept.

The large component and machine size range has lead to Coromant Capto® spindles being employed through the entire span, from C3 (32 mm (1.260 inch) flange diameter) up to C10 (100 mm (3.937 inch) flange diameter).

As well as providing the best stability Coromant Capto® allows for the shortest gauge line and lowest tooling cost by removing the need for machine interface adaptors.

Read more about how to choose spindle


A multi-task machine can replace a lathe and a machining centre and produce various components. It is important to allow ample space for tools in the magazine, for all operations and components, to support a quick change over from one job to another without the need to change tools.

Multi-tool position

Multi-tool position, using turning holders with multiple cutting edges, has the double advantages of saving indexing time as well as magazine space. Spindle orientation, measuring and offsets of multiple positions are needed in the control.

Tool holder offset function

Tool holder offset function (bottom turret) allows for a pre-measured tool to be put in the machine which can save measuring time and reduce scrap components. When pre-measuring the tools outside the machine it is important to have on optimized zero position for each turret position to be able to cut correct from the first component being produced.

Sub-spindle/lower revolver

To be able to complete a part, often machining from both sides is required using the sub-spindle. This is most suitable for shorter components that do not require a steady rest. The lower revolver can increase productivity significantly for machines with sub-spindles.

The drawbacks of the lower revolver are reduced component diameter and increased programming and set-up time making it suitable mainly for smaller multi-task machines producing higher volume components.

Tailstock/steady rest

Long slender components with internal machining require a tailstock and steady rest instead of a sub-spindle and lower revolver. The long boring bar adaptor is a natural choice depending on the length of the bore to be machined.

Long boring bar adaptor

The normal magazine and automatic change has a length limitation of tools possible to change. On larger machines there can be a storage and tool change function for long boring bars. With automatic tool change also for cutting heads at the end of the boring bar, flexibility and automation can be achieved.

High pressure pump

Most machines offer a high pressure coolant capability around 70 bar (1015 psi).

Read more about coolant aspects

Multifunctional tools

The most important benefit for multi-task machines is the possibility to combine all operations on a component in one machine. However, drawbacks are increased tool indexing time compared to a turning centre, accessibility due to the B-axis head and compromised magazine space.

Multifunctional tools are developed for multi-task machines and addresses these issues to ensure the machine capabilities are maximized.



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