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CNC lathes & automatic turning machines - renowned manufacturers

Lathes followed a long evolutionary process, from wooden lathes to CNC machines. The basic principle is the same for all lathes: a workpiece is fixed between the spindle and the tailstock, an electric motor brings it to a constant rotational speed and it is processed using tools. All lathes have the same structure, namely the bed, the frame, the main spindle, the drive system and the carriage. The differences concern, amongst others, the turning diameter, the spindle bore, the distance between centres and the machine weight. At Surplex you will find all kind of used lathes such as centre lathes, automatic lathes, heavy duty lathes, etc. Used but in a good shape!

Buy and sell used lathes, turning machines and automatic lathe machines at Surplex


  1. What is a lathe?
  2. Metal lathes – Construction and how to use
  3. What can be made using a metal lathe?
  4. Who can work with a metal lathe?
  5. Buy and sell affordable used lathes and turning machines equipment
  6. Overview of manufacturers of metal lathes and turning machines equipment
Second-hand metal lathe in a factory

What is a lathe?

A lathe is a piece of equipment for machining long metal products into rotationally symmetrical components. Alongside milling machines, turning machines are the central processing point in metalworking and are the successor to the traditional lathes. They therefore form part of the basic equipment required by every metalworking operation. The development of this equipment from a turning machine into a full metal-turning lathe guarantees a much higher quality of produced tools on average, which rely much less on the abilities of the person operating the lathe.

  • Precision tools for metal processing
  • Rotary clamping process
  • A range spanning small table machines to large turning machines
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A powerful electrical motor moves the workpiece into a continually rotating movement, which can consist of several thousand revolutions per minute. The tools required for the components are attached to a revolver. The desired tool is fed to the rotary body by means of a tool slide and the ablative clamping process is initiated by means of precisely adjustable guides. Metal lathes are available as mini lathes, small table machines as well as large heavy Duty Lathes measuring several metres in length.

Metal lathes – Construction and how to use

A lathe consists of three main groups of components: frame, drive system and tool guidance system. The frame bears the weight of the mechanical components. They are built in a very solid fashion to enable the machines to withstand strong forces and work precisely. Welding constructions and monolithic cast metal frames are used, which increase device lifespan and ensure that a used metal lathe can be purchased without any structural concerns. Depending on the size of the metal lathe, the base may have to be adjusted in order to withstand the pressure and oscillating forces.

The second component group consists of an electrical motor and a gear unit. The gear unit chosen can range from a single-stage spur gear through to a high-performance torque converter for exceptionally quiet rotational movements. The spindle and tailstock also form part of the gear unit and are used to clamp the workpiece in position. Those who are looking to purchase second hand lathes should pay particular attention to the following areas: highly precise concentricity and a play-free tailstock are essential for precise workpieces. However, buyers of second-hand metal turning lathes may need to be willing to accept higher tolerances than in newer models under some circumstances. Overall, used lathe machines can still offer a considerable degree of stability.

Turning machines in operation

The third component, the tool guidance system, in the simplest versions consists of a rail along which the tools are fed using a turning spindle. If the purchase in question is a used lathe or turning machine, these components need to be checked carefully. Used metalworking lathes frequently come with a test log since they have already been in use. This log features information on concentricity and spindle play recorded at regular intervals. It is also possible for these key components to undergo a general overhaul. Various automated components may also be included depending on the design of the lathe, which guide the machining tools towards the rotating workpiece in accordance with a preconfigured programme. Nowadays, there are often options available for automatically switching tools and workpieces.

Lathes also require accessories and various equipments. The housing protects the area surrounding a lathe from chips and shavings cast off during the turning of metal and cooling lubricant is supplied to ensure uniform removal of chips from the workpiece. High-performance illumination enables the workpiece processing steps to be continually monitored. If the lathe machine is second-hand, accessories and attachments may be missing, or these may be optional parts. Even if the manufacturers are not obliged to keep a supply of accessories for old and second-hand lathes, the majority strive to offer a range of basic services for used machinery.

What can be made using a metal lathe?

Everything requiring a rotationally symmetrical or near symmetrical cross-section can be produced on a turning machine. This primarily concerns all types of shafts and linear axes. Gear racks, toothed wheels or asymmetrical crankshafts and camshafts can also be produced on lathes. Even though conventional centre lathes are still used a great deal, CNC milling machines are being used more frequently for turning metal when producing individual parts. These automatically complete the turning process in accordance with a preconfigured programme.

Who can work with a metal lathe?

Only qualified specialists are allowed to work with a lathe unless it is an automatically equipped automated turning machine. The lathe operator must undergo several years of training and must have specific theoretical and practical knowledge. In addition to knowing about materials and processing regulations, the operator must also be knowledgeable of all the safety-relevant aspects of working with a turning machine. However, thanks to extensive automation, today’s metalworking lathes require far less interaction from the operator compared to a conventional turning lathe. Spinning chips, high rotational speeds and high temperatures make the lathe workplace very challenging. Simply putting on appropriate protective clothing is generally not enough, which is why it is mandatory to have safety training for all work using a lathe.

Detail of a second-hand metal lathe

Buy and sell affordable used lathes and turning machines frequently has used lathes for sale from a wide range of available lathe machinery, which means you can find just what you’re looking for. In a used condition, turning machines are generally sold as part of an industrial auction. The machinery on offer is just as varied as the areas of application and spans small lathes, engine lathes, conventional manually-operated turning machines, through to automated lathes and NC-/CNC-controlled, modern lathe machines. For example, you could cheaply acquire a second hand lathe for training purposes or vastly increase production using a second hand CNC lathe.

The majority of lathes for sale come from the German, Austria or Swiss second-hand market. However, the increasing internationalisation of our platform means that there is also a large number of machines from other European countries as well. You can see the location of the lathe you intend to purchase on the product information page.

You can also sell your old and used lathes and turning machines via Surplex, irrespective of whether it is a small table lathe or a large turning machine. Simply get in contact with us to clarify the details. Selling your used metal lathes via Surplex gives you the chance of achieving good sales prices. Speak to our experienced project managers for more information.

Overview of manufacturers of metal lathes and turning machines equipment

Even when used, lathes and turning machines are still precision machine tools which can create products of the highest quality. However, the machinery itself must have been high-quality to begin with, which is why those looking to buy a second hand turning machine should focus on manufacturers known for top quality.