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What To Look For In Used CNC Lathes

Posted by Michelle Chiodo on Sep 9, 2014 3:55:00 PM
Michelle Chiodo

Buying a Used CNC Lathe

So you’re thinking of buying a CNC lathe. You’re looking for the quality and reliability that a computer-controlled system can bring, but are not anticipating the prospective price tag. Used CNC lathes can be a great option in this situation, and MMI Auction is just the place to get one at a great price.

used cnc lathes - buying checklist

Before you start bidding, though, let’s take a look at some specs to look out for when shopping for a used CNC lathe. The difference between a high-quality, reliable used CNC lathes and cheap models that will break down after minimal use is a big one, and you want to be sure about a machine before you buy it. Although some of these inspections can be difficult to perform online, it’s possible to have the seller perform the inspections and videotape them, or to schedule an inspection at the machine’s location. Often, up-close photos, specifications and background reports will provide a sufficient view of the machine.

Inspecting a Used CNC Metal Lathe

The Ways

The ways may be considered the single most important part of a lathe. The ways is the track on which the saddle and carriage slide, allowing the cutting tools to do their job. As a lathe is used, the ways tends to wear unevenly, with the most wear occurring near the headstock. To check the evenness of wear on the ways, move the carriage to the headstock and tighten the holding clamp, then loosen it just enough to allow movement. Move the carriage down the ways, towards the tailstock. The farther the carriage moves before stopping, the more even the wear on the ways and the better the condition of the ways. If the carriage stops while it’s still close to the head, though, you may want to look for a different machine.

Headstock Bearings

The best way to check the bearings at the headstock, where the motor and gears are stored, is to simply run the lathe for a while. The bearings should not make any noise – if they do, that’s a bad sign. After a few minutes of wear, the bearings should still remain cool enough to touch. If it is impossible to turn the lathe on during inspection, try moving the spindle – if there is any lateral or vertical movement of the spindle, this indicates wear and is another red flag.

Gear Train and Back Gears

The same process can check the gears as the headstock bearings – run the lathe and listen. Unusual noise, such as grinding, indicates wear on the gears. Make sure to run the lathe at all speeds so every gear is checked, and run the lathe for long enough to heat up any lubricants – cold grease can cover up noise damage. If possible, use a flashlight to visually inspect the gears for pits, chips, or any other damage.

Saddle and Carriage

Aside from the ways, the carriage and saddle are the most likely part of a CNC lathe to wear. Check the movement of crossfeed, the saddle, the carriage, and the tool holder. A bit of wear on these parts is common, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to need to replace the bearings in these parts on an otherwise good lathe. Just be sure to size up the area and get a feel for how much wear there is.

Buying a Used CNC Lathe On MMI Auction

Now that you’ve got a sense for what to look for, take a look at our current auctions…We carry a wide variety of CNC lathe machines, multi-axis lathes, Swiss type lathes, and even manual lathes. We offer start-up guarantees, plenty of photos and videos for many of our CNC machines. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for, we have hundreds of machines in stock and can likely find one that fits your requirements. Let us know about any specific machines you need here.

You can also ask questions about any of our machines on our listing pages:

used cnc lathe questions

You can also submit any questions to us directly on each machine listing, or search for videos of machines running on our YouTube channel (there are quite a few!)

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our site, want to learn more about CNC lathes, or want to contact us for any other reason, you can send us an email or chat with us at our contact page, or give us a call at (312) 226-4150. We love to hear from our customers.

Happy lathe hunting!

In case you are searching for more great tips and guidelines in your machinery search, download our FREE e-Guide:

Topics: used cnc lathes, used cnc lathe, used cnc lathe for sale