Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Standard Operation Procedure for a CNC Lathe

careertrend article image

Operating a CNC lathe can be done with a keen sense of detail by making sure that all standard procedures are followed thoroughly. If you maintain a clean work environment, make sure that tools are sharp and that parts are completed per the blueprints, you should not come across any problems while operating a CNC lathe.


Turn on the machine. Some shops turn them off at night because of their power consumption when idle. Turn on the spindle in either direction to warm up the machine from an idle state. This distributes the oil so that no damage occurs during machining.

Prepare your measuring tools and raw material for the day. This is important because you shouldn't walk away from the machine at inopportune times during your shift. Prepare the jaws you will use on the machine as well as any tooling you plan on using.

Machine Preparation and Setup

Remove the current jaws if necessary. The jaws you use may vary by job, so if you need to remove the current jaws, do so carefully. There are often very sharp metal chips built with the jaws themselves. Blow off the chuck before replacing the jaws as well. Chips caught under the jaws can make them spin non-concentrically, which will cause errors in the machining process.

Place the tools you need for the job in the tool turret of the CNC lathe. A CNC lathe can use many tools during a cycle. Place your raw material in the jaws and tighten enough to hold the material, but not crush it.

Teach all of the tools in the turret. This will allow the machine to use the information about the location of each tool to determine where it will be placed for cutting. The CNC control can use the tips location to set it in the correct spot related to the zero point. Set the starting point for the tool for accurate measurements. Bring the tools close to the raw material and set the zero point on the CNC control. The machine will remember this location and use the other tools in the CNC turret accordingly.

In-process Procedures

Blow off the machine thoroughly between cycles and measure every few parts to make sure they are being cut accurately. Check the tips of the tools and replace as necessary. Clean off the jaws every cycle. You may also have to clean out the chip drawer every third or fourth cycle depending on how much material is taken off each time.


Christian Mullen is a graduate from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in finance. He has written content articles online since 2009, specializing in financial topics. A professional musician, Mullen also has expert knowledge of the music industry and all of its facets.

Photo Credits