Adding automation to any machine can add production value, but adding the right type of barfeeder or barload system can improve productivity on your turning center exponentially. Whether you need a barfeeder or barloader to feed the beast of your turning center you should have some sort of automation in place for turning bar stock. 

What Is a Bar Loader?

There are two types of bar loaders available for turning centers. 

  1. Barfeeder: The first is the traditional style barfeeder which loads, supports and feeds bar stock up to 12’ in length. These types of loaders offer less remnant waste and support the bar while turning at higher RPM’s. Typically found on higher production machines like Screw machines the barfeeder is more expensive due to its design and size but can make up quickly for that cost by maximizing material usage. 
  2. Bar Loaders: Bar loaders do not support bar stock outside of the machine's spindle therefore they are capable of feeding stock that is only slightly longer than the machine's spindle length. These loaders require less space and are lower in cost but require barstock to be pre cut to size and by default, have more scrap waste due to the increased amount of remnants. 

How Adding a Bar Loader Benefits Your CNC Turning Center

Your CNC turning center, like most machines in your shop, only makes money when it’s making chips. The best way to make chips is to keep the spindle loaded and whether you choose a barloader or a barfeeder, keeping material in the spindle is the key. As these machines can be easily equipped with parts catchers, adding a bar loading system makes complete sense in order to increase productivity and reduce cost. The addition of a bar loader can easily allow the machine to produce work untended while your operators are busy tending to other tasks allowing the CNC turning center to be as most productive.

How to Buy the Right Bar Loader for Your CNC Lathe

Deciding on the right bar feeder or bar loader for your CNC turning center is relatively an easy process if you can simply answer a few questions.

  1. Is your machine equipped with a parts catcher? If your machine is equipped with a parts catcher then your set to select either the bar loader or more capable bar feeder. If not, you're likely not a candidate for either system of automation until you add one on (check with your machine manufacturer for cost of field retrofitting the parts catcher option). 
  2. Do you have space to allow for a larger bar feeder or smaller bar loader? If space and budget allows you should look at the larger bar feeders for your application as they can handle longer stock reducing the scrap remnant to one piece per bar as opposed to 3-4X that using a bar loader. Further by using the bar feed you eliminate the need to pre sawcut your barstock into lengths suitable for the spindle saving more time and eliminating one more manual material handling step.  
  3. Do you have a high quantity of parts required? Any automation system is best suited for jobs requiring a higher volume of parts. If your jobs consist of mostly 3-5 pieces then you are likely not a good candidate for adding automation, however if your work orders consist of hundreds of parts then you are indeed a great candidate for automation, including a bar loader.

At Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales our turning experts can help determine the right machine and system of automation that is right for you, your application and budget. Contact us today to find out more about how adding a bar loading system to your CNC turning center can improve your bottom line. 

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