Swiss CNC Machining: Process, Advantages And Applications

I know you are wondering, why is it called Swiss CNC machining? Most people are fascinated by the name of this type of machining before they even get to the basics of the process. Yes, the name of the machine is related to Switzerland the country. Beyond that, the machine offers a lot, so it is widely used the world over.

For a long time, the swiss machines have been known to be built for swiss watchmakers. It is a fairly versatile machine that produce small intricate parts.

In this post, we will highlight the features of swiss CNC machining. The intricacies of the swiss turning process as well as the advantages and usage are the focus today. Let’s do this together!

What Is Swiss Machining

swiss cnc machining

Swiss machining is generally the kind of machining that the operator does on a CNC lathe whose original design came from the Switzerland. The invention is attributed to the swiss watchmaker Jakob Schweizer. It is a specialized process that typically focuses on the production of intricate and slender parts. The products from Swiss CNC machining are also renowned for tight tolerances.

It all started in the 19th century when Swiss engineers designed a machine that could manufacture small parts. The main mechanisms of this machine were a guide bushing and a headstock with sliding capability. Based on this setup, the work piece and cutting tool could be close to each other. This led to improved tolerance and accuracy.  Since the 70s, the Swiss machine replaced its automation with CNC.

Swiss machining has one the most impressive range of capability you can ever get. Some of the processes you can perform in Swiss machining are turning, boring, threading, and milling.

Compared to traditional CNC machining, Swiss machining is faster and more effective in part production. It can deliver 30 parts per hour and these are ready for shipment or delivery – no need for secondary touches. So for the production of smaller parts with thin walls and all other intricacies, this is the CNC machining process of choice for producing small and intricate parts.

Swiss Machining Vs CNC Machining, What is Difference?

Given the variety of user needs, the swiss machining vs CNC machining debate is not going away any soon. The traditional CNC lathe has undoubtedly been revolutionary, so it has its strong points. The same case applies to the swiss CNC lathes.

Swiss machines are renowned for their shorter cycle times. The can satisfy high volume production requirements. This type of machine’s capabilities are based on availability of many axes, in some instances, more than 10. Their speed at machining intricate components cannot be compared to what the traditional lathe delivers.

There is also a difference in the size of bar stock that the two types of CNC machines can handle. The CNC process on the swiss type machine is restricted to smaller stock – about 1.5 inches. Conventional CNC machining is capable of working on much larger stock.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Swiss Machining

When considering whether to invest in or use a swiss-style CNC machine, you want to look at its advantages and disadvantages. Here are the standout pros and cons of this CNC machining method.

Pros of Swiss Machines:

High precision machining

Compared to conventional lathe, swiss machining technique tends to have very high precision. While other lathes often have up to three axes, the swiss machines can operate on up to five axes. With the more axes, the machines are capable of providing precision machining operations. The tolerances on swiss machine can reach 0.0002 inches.

High repeatability

Swiss precision machining is synonymous with consistent performance. These interesting machines produce components of high quality with amazing repeatability. For industries where even the smallest units matter, this is an irreplaceable attribute.

Complex parts production

If you are looking to manufacture intricate parts to the minutest details, look no further than the swiss machining technology. This type of machining technology is great at producing complex geometries, something that alternative machining operations may struggle with.

Simultaneous Operations on the Swiss Machine

The swiss machine has continued to evolve. Today’s swiss CNC lathes come with multiple tool spindles. This features means that these lathes are capable of performing several operations simultaneously.

It could be turning a shaft on one spindle and drilling a block on the other. Having this capability reduces cycle time. It could be a big time and money saver for machine shops compared to traditional lathes.

Fewer secondary operations

Another distinguishing characteristic of swiss machine operations is that the need for secondary operations is minimal or non-existent. This is because the technology has tight tolerances coupled with unmatched precision.

Reduced Deflection

We all know that the distance between the workpiece and the tool can determine the level of deflection. For the swiss lathes, the cutting tool and the work piece are in close proximity. Because of this setup, there is reduced deflection, something that accrues other benefits such as higher precision machining.

Higher RPMs

Another characteristic of the swiss machine is the capability to run at relatively high revolutions per minute (RPMs). It doesn’t vibrate even at those elevated RPMs. The products from swiss machines thus have the best surface finish. The production times are also faster on this type of machining process.

Swiss Lathe Automation

Automation advances and swiss lathe capabilities form an excellent combination. Swiss CNC machining works excellently with multiple operations, higher stability, shorter lead times, and many other features that blend with automation.

Cons of Swiss Machines:

Bar Stock Limitation

Bar stock size limitation is one of the most notable disadvantages of swiss turning centers. These CNC machines are typically restricted to small bar stock, say about 1.5 inches in diameter. For larger stock, conventional lathes are more suitable.

Higher Tooling Costs

Swiss machine tools tend to be more expensive than the conventional lathe tools. The specialization of these tools is the main issue. Tools meant for intricate parts with tight tolerances are always going to fetch more than the standards tools. Add to that the automatic bar feeding mechanisms and high speed machining, and it becomes even understandable why the tooling costs for swiss machining are high.

Heat Dissipation Problem

Using oil-based coolant in CNC Swiss machine presents several benefits. It prevents rusting and tool wear, while also reducing friction. However, this type of coolant is not completely effective in promoting heat dissipation in CNC lathes. Therefore, Swiss type lathes may deteriorate from heat accumulation.

Longer Setup Time

The swiss automatic lathes have so much capability that setting them up can be time consuming. There are several tools to calibrate and fix. That applies for the programming step, which may require high expertise.

Applications of Swiss Machining

The swiss watchmaking industry may have been the genesis of swiss machining, but there are varied applications for the technology today. Popular industries drawing from the solution are:


If there is one industry that benefits a lot from the intricate parts of this form of machining, it has to be aerospace. Aerospace parts are widely manufactured using swiss machines. Notable metals that feature are aluminum alloys and steel. Some of the parts are fans and fasteners.

Medical devices

The medical industry also utilizes swiss type lathe products extensively for delicate components. Medical devices built using this machining method offer the high precision needed in the industry. Surgical instruments and implants are perfect examples of the kind of impact the swiss type lathe has had in the medical field.


Modern electronics are smaller and more complex than ever before. Conventional lathes are finding it harder to deliver the desired results. Manufacturers have turned to advanced solutions, such as CNC swiss machining. These highly capable CNC machines are perfect at producing connectors, pins, and many other electronic components.


Swiss machining solutions find use in the extensive automotive industry too. The technology is behind some of the latest mechanical advancements we have seen in the industry lately. It helps create the smaller and complex components in the industry.

Auto manufacturers are using this technology to manufacture suspension components, carburetor covers, and engine parts. The industry benefits a lot in terms of reduced costs, streamlined manufacturing processes, and enhanced production speeds.


Swiss machining plays a big role in the operations of many manufacturing facilities. Its versatility, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in the production of small complex parts cannot be compared to what conventional machining offers. Its capability on jobs with very tight tolerances is remarkable.

The question for a manufacturer or any one in need of these parts is always straightforward: Are you capable of optimizing the Swiss-style CNC machine?

We have detailed the intricacies of the Swiss CNC machining process and outlined the advantages and uses of the process. We hope that with these insights, you are more than ready to utilize this amazing technology in your next project.

As renowned professionals in the CNC manufacturing world, we are more than happy to help you with your Swiss CNC machining service needs. Call us anytime.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.