Knowledge Center


Multitasking Machining Equipment: Now the New Normal

Derek Korn | Production Machining magazine

Equipment that can turn, mill and more is quickly becoming the standard in metalworking technology. These machines can produce increasingly complex parts in a single setup yet are easier operate than ever before.

Live tooling livens turning centers

Many multitasking machines are based on a lathe design in which a milling spindle(s) has been added. The most basic is a turning center with live tooling, which refers to driven spindles that mount on a tool gang plate or turret that can be used for milling flats or drilling holes.

Faster tool changeovers

Quick-change tooling enables faster setups of live and static tooling for new jobs, minimizing the time a turning center is down for an operator to ready it for new work.

Swiss-types as five-axis machines

Swiss-type lathes featuring a swiveling B axis can perform five-axis work on complicated parts to machine them complete. New models include a B-axis automatic tool changer.

B-axis benefits

A big advance for job shops that run big parts came when B-axis spindles having the torque and power to match dedicated milling machines as well as automatic toolchangers were added to turning center platforms. These “turn-mills” can create prismatic parts just as easily as cylindrical ones.

Multiple turrets offer production advantages

Twin-turret lathes can perform “pinch turning,” in which two static cutting tools are simultaneously driven down the machine’s Z axis to double the material removal rate.


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Twin Spindle/Twin Turret

Quick-Change Tooling



CNC sliding headstock lathes are becoming more popular among traditional machine shops for their multitasking capabilities, some offering B-axis milling spindles.

Turn-Mills: Being About the B Axis

With the addition of powerful B-axis milling spindles and automatic toolchangers, turn-mills combine the best of milling and turning worlds.

High-Production Multitasking

Platforms such as multi-spindles and rotary transfer machines remain well-suited for high-volume production, but are now more accommodating to smaller batch sizes.