Long before CNC machining, The swiss watch industry is credited with developing the swiss screw machine in the late 1800’s. They were developed for their own company use in producing precision high volume watch components. With this machines they were able to turn small, complex, precision parts. It took less than a decade for independent builders to recognize their potential in other industries, and the swiss screw machine market was born.
With their unique features of a sliding head stock feeding into a solid guide bushing, they were able to produce tight tolerances and fine finishes with a high length of turn to diameter ratio. These cam driven automatic machines would become a major player in world wide manufacturing.
Over the years, new features were added to allow milling, tapping, thread whirling, and pick off for back work. Some of the components they made could not be matched by today’s Swiss CNC machining, for cycle time and accuracy. It was not uncommon to produce complex parts in cycle times of 5 seconds or less. No CNC can do that yet.
A lot has changed over the 39 years since I accidentally stumbled into the screw machine industry, and as a business owner we must be open to new ideas that move us forward. But sometimes it is helpful to look back and remember. Before CNC machining, super cad cam systems, and insert tooling with the latest space age coating, we put a man on the moon.