What Is Live Tooling in CNC Turning Machines?

Live tooling provides a number of unique advantages to the performance of custom CNC machining services. Compared to conventional fixed tooling, live tooled CNC workstations are capable of offering more design flexibility for your precision-machined parts, components, and assemblies.

Selecting tools for the CNC machine

How Live Tooling CNC Machines Work: Advantages and Applications

The live tool’s ability to rotate and perform other unique metal cutting operations allows for more complex machining processes in a single run. This increased versatility streamlines the entire setup process and reduces manufacturing labor requirements as well as turnaround times. Furthermore, removing unnecessary setup processes helps ensure accuracy and repeatability from one machined product to the next.

An Overview of Live Tooling and the CNC Turning Process

Sometimes referred to as “driven tooling” in the CNC machining industry, live tooling refers to the cutting or machining apparatus installed on a CNC lathe turret.

  • Conventional turning machines utilize a static tool – only the workpiece itself rotates, and the tool is pressed against the surface to perform the desired machining operations.
  • A driven tooling CNC lathe features a “live” cutting apparatus which is driven independently of the rotating workpiece. More efficient, accurate, and/or complex metalworking operations are therefore possible. Machining operations can also be performed more quickly.

What Types of Machining Services Are Live Tool Lathes Used For?

CNC lathes equipped with driven tooling can perform a number of unique metalworking operations and features that are not necessarily possible with a conventional turning machine. These include:

Streamlined CNC Milling Operations: Live tooling is capable of performing numerous milling processes directly on the lathe, including edge rounding/squaring or adding axial/radial features to the component. This live tooling solution is much faster and more efficient than pausing the turning process and loading the part into a CNC mill – which also necessitates setting the product back up on the lathe once milling is complete.

Precision Drilling and Tapping: Live tool lathes are capable of drilling and tapping the component in-process, removing the need to set the product up separately in a drill press. 

Custom Grooving and Slotting: CNC turning machines with live tooling are capable of efficiently adding complex metalworking features to your custom-machined parts, including precisely-cut grooves, slots, or virtually any subtractive feature.

An Overview of Our CNC Machining Department’s Capabilities

  • 4 CNC Lathes
    • Flexible bar capacity ranging from .25″ to 3″
    • Large chucking up to capacity to 14″
    • Close-tolerance CNC turning operations to .0004″
    • Full live tooling capabilities

Quality American CNC Machining Services for the Oklahoma Region and Beyond

Every custom CNC machining job is unique, presenting its own unique production challenges. At Sawyer Fabrication, our goal is to deliver a truly optimized machining solution that meets or exceeds your every expectation of quality, efficiency, and customer service.

Read more about our capabilities and check out the projects we work on.