Lathe is one of the most versatile and widely used machine tools all over the world. It is commonly known as the mother of all other machine tool. The main function of a lathe is to remove metal from a job to give it the required shape and size. The job is securely and rigidly held in the chuck or in between centers on the lathe machine and then turn it against a single point cutting tool which will remove metal from the job in the form of chips.
Fig. shows the working principle of lathe. An engine lathe is the most basic and simplest form of the lathe. It derives its name from the early lathes, which obtained their power from engines. Besides the simple turning operation as described above, lathe can be used to carry out other operations also, such as drilling, reaming, boring, taper turning, knurling, screw thread cutting, grinding etc.
Lathes were developed as early as the 15th century and were known as “bow” lathes. The operator rotated the work piece by drawing a bow back and forth, either by hand or with the use of a foot treadle. Next came Bessons lathe in 1568, which was driven by a cord passing over a pulley above the machine. This in turn drove two other pulleys on the same shaft which rotated the work piece and a crude, wooden lead screw, which in turn allowed the operator to remove metal from the piece being machined. The screw cutting lathe originates in the 17th century. Development and advancements have continued and today we have sophisticated computerized controlled lathes. Lathes have allowed man to reshape, machine and manufacture many precision cylindrical components made of various types of metal, wood, plastics, and other materials. Without the lathe, man would still be trying to produce cylindrical components in some crude fashion or another. However, because of advanced technology, the lathe has allowed man to become an important asset in developing and machining many precision components needed to operate and function in many areas of our industrial complex.
Source A Textbook of Basic Manufacturing Processes and Workshop Technology by Rajender Singh.