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What Makes it Swiss?

This sequence shows the bushless collet and housing in various locations along its stroke.

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This sequence shows the bushless collet and housing in various locations along its stroke. Without the guide bushing in place, multiple turning passes can be programmed for roughing and finishing the workpiece.

Among the most popular machine tools in past few years is the Swiss-type turning center. You know Swiss—it features a moving headstock with a guide bushing for support of long slim parts. As this class of machine has moved beyond its screw machine shop and watch industry roots, many new applications are finding their way onto Swiss-type machines.

Consequently, I’m told, upwards of 60 to 70 percent of work run across these machines is actually misapplied because it doesn’t fit the part profile that Swiss was designed to machine. In response, almost every Swiss machine builder now offers what I refer to as a bushless Swiss machine—a sliding headstock without a guide bushing for processing larger-diameter stock with relatively short L to D ratios. But is a sliding-headstock machine without a guide bushing still Swiss? The question gets at your sense of what “Swiss” really meansa little like asking whether cheese without holes is still Swiss, or whether the Pope’s guards sans the Michelangelo-designed clown uniforms are still Swiss. Does the term "Swiss-type lathe" automatically imply guide bushing? Send me an e-mail. I want to know what you think.

For a better understanding of how bushless Swiss works, read No Guide Bushing On A Swiss-Type. To read more about the types of bushless Swiss, visit Consider A Programmable Guide Bushing and Swiss Democracy. These articles dig deeper into the advantages of Swiss-type turning centers without guide bushing. Enjoy!