AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO CNC LATHES & TOP BRANDS (Export-import volume and countries list included)

What is a Lathe? What is Turning? What CNC, CNC Lathe and CNC Turning Center means? Biggest manufacturers and suppliers of CNC Lathe Machines..and even more

CNC Lathes for turning
A CNC Lathe

Lathes, and specifically in our case here, the CNC lathes or CNC Turning centers are one of the most popular machine types today that metal shops, factories of all sizes, are incorporating in their production processes besides machining centers, milling machines and other technologies. It is not a surprising fact that, hundreds and maybe thousands of CNC lathe manufacturers exist in the world now, because they really sell good.

First the basics; The definitions…

#1 : The basic information on the CNC lathes and CNC lathe technology

What is CNC: Computer Numerical Control

CNC is a term for numerical control of machine tools by use of computer programs which are saved in computer memories to control the motion and processes of the machine in a much precise way.

What is a Lathe:

Video showing the operation of a cnc lathe

Turning is performed on a machine called a lathe in which the work piece is mounted on the chuck, which rotates relative to the stationary cutting tool.

Lathe is a machine (a type of machinery) which performs a process called turning in which the work-piece is mounted on the chuck that rotates relative to the stationary cutting tool.

A CNC lathe is a modern and sophisticated machine having an industrial computer which is programmed to perform even most precise machining jobs with turning process. A CNC Lathe features an industrial computer having the programs to control the machine. The spindle/tooling is mounted on a turret.

Do you want to know more on CNC, and CNC Turning you can check many resources on the internet. Visit for CNC.. 

Turning is one of the machining processes. In order to be able to process any material on a lathe we look at its machinability.

So it is time to get into the terms machining, machinability, and turning.

Swiss Type CNC Lathes
Swiss Type CNC Lathes
CNC Lathes from Turkey
CNC Lathes made in Turkey

#2: Some technical information on machining, and machinability (features of metals that can be turned by CNC lathes)

What is Machining and Machinability?

Machining Processes: We can say that, machining is the most important one among manufacturing processes.

Machining is the process of removing material from a workpiece in the form of chips.

  • Machining is necessary where tight tolerances on dimensions and finishes are required.
  • Any machining process requires a cutting tool to remove material.
  • The cutting tool is stronger than the material being machined, and causes fracture of the material: chips.
  • For all types of machining, including grinding, honing, lapping, planing, turning, or milling, the chip formation process is similar.

Categories of chip types are illustrated below:

The fracture process usually causes heat, and a cooling fluid has to be continuously poured into the cutting area. The first processes in the production of a part remove a large volume of material but usually produce a rough surface. Such processes are called rough machining processes. Usually rough machining processes are followed by finishing processes to improve the surface quality.

With CNC machine tools producing parts at ever-faster rates, it has become important to provide automatic algorithms for determining speeds and feeds. The information presented in this section are some of the more important aspects of chip formation.

The most important machining processes are:

  1. Turning
  2. Milling
  3. Drilling
  4. Shaping / Planing

Turning Process:

Turning is one of the basic machining processes. Turning is performed on a machine called a lathe in which the work piece is mounted on the chuck, which rotates relative to the stationary cutting tool. Turning is generally used to produce cylindrical parts.

illustration of turning process

The Turning process is our main subject that is conducted by lathes or in other words  turning machines

What is Machinability?

Machinability is a broad term covering the relative ease of machining or the satisfaction with which a material is cut by sharp tools in various operations. In general, this implies the speed with which metal can be cut, but it also includes such factors as good finish and long tool life. The most machinable metal is the one which will permit the fastest removal of the greatest amount of material per grind (without reshapening the tool) with a satisfactory finish. Machinability involves tool life, tool performance, machine speeds, feed and depth of cut, character and design of cutting tools, cutting fluid, and also the quality, composition, hardness, and microstructure of the metal being cut.

The various factors affecting machinability may be classified as follows:

  • Material cut
  • Cutting tool used 
  • Cutting fluid 
  • Operating machine

Material Properties Which Affect Machinability:

The best machinability is achieved in materials if:

a) no too high ductility

b) no high strain hardening

c) not too abrasive

It is not easy to define the materials machinability with the help of ordinary mechanical properties. But certain trends can be found for certain materials.

Chemical Composition: Chemical composition of a metal is a major factor in determining its machinability. The effects of composition though, are not always clear, because the elements that make up an alloy metal, work both separately and collectively. Certain generalizations about chemical composition of steels in relation to machinability can be made, but non-ferrous alloys are too numerous and varied to permit such generalizations. There are certain steel types (free-cutting steels), which are specially alloyed for good machinability.

Microstructure: Metals whose microstructures are similar have similar machining properties. But even small variations in the microstructure can affect machinability. The grain size plays an important role; it determines the yield strength, the ductility and the surface quality. Heat treatments can be used to optimize the microstructure for the best machinability.

Fabrication: Whether a metal has been hot rolled, cold rolled, cold drawn, cast, or forged will affect its grain size, ductility, strength, hardness, structure – and therefore – its machinability.

Hardness: In general, materials hardness and yield strength are related. If hardness and yield strength are high, the machinability is low, because of the decrease in the tool life. But this is not always true; for steels if the carbon content is reduced, the material becomes more ductile and the machinability is reduced, as the chip makes the tool blunt (less sharp), so that the tool life reduces. On the other hand if the carbon content is too high, the material becomes too hard and it also lowers the tool life. As a conclusion we must say that we must look for optimized values of ductility and hardness for a good machinability. For cast irons hardness is a reasonable indication for machinability. They have very good machinability, because they contain graphite which reduces friction. Very short chips are produced. If there are hard carbides in the microstructure wear problems can occur.

Yield and Tensile Strength: A material with a high strength requires a high level of force to initiate chip formation in a machining operation. Materials with relatively high strengths will be more difficult to machine and will reduce tool life.

Modulus of Elasticity: In machining high modulus of elasticity values are preferred. If the material is rigid, the elastic deformation during cutting will be small and high dimensional accuracy is achieved.

Thermal Conductivity: Metals which exhibit low thermal conductivities will not dissipate heat freely and therefore, during the machining of these materials, the cutting tool and workpiece become extremely hot. This excess heat accelerates wear at the cutting edge and reduces tool life, thus machinability. Materials with a high thermal conductivity have a better machinability.

Thermal Expansion: In terms of general machining practice, materials with large thermal expansion coefficients will make precise machining with close dimensional tolerances extremely difficult, since a small rise in the workpiece temperature will result in dimensional changes. Materials with a low thermal expansion have a better machinability.

#3: CNC Lathes World Trade: Export and import values

By being one of the most important processes in manufacturing, Turning is subject to a huge trade accross the world. Lathes and mostly CNC Lathes are being sold pretty well. Here in this section we will cover the values in trade of lathes, list and analize the top countries which are engaged in lathe manufacturing and trade.

First a question; How much was the value of total exports of lathes worldwide in year 2017?

The answer will give all of us a solid idea of how big is the market for lathes. These are the values of international trade. Also we have to consider the volume in domestic market sales for manufacturing countries. For example, Japan, China, Germany as 3 of the biggest players, must have also big markets for their own lathes..

The answer is 6,77 Billion USD. The total value of international trade of lathes (of which most are the CNC Lathes) in 2017.

The manufacturer and supplier ( especially exporter) companies for CNC lathes may benefit from these statistical informations, to find out what countries may be the best markets for their products. 

The HS Codes for lathe machines are as follow:

845811 Horizontal lathes, incl. turning centres, for removing metal, numerically controlled ( CNC Horizontal Lathes)

845891 Lathes, incl. turning centres, for removing metal, numerically controlled (excluding horizontal . . . ) Other CNC Lathes

845819 Horizontal lathes, incl. turning centres, for removing metal, not numerically controlled

845899 Lathes, incl. turning centres, for removing metal, not numerically controlled (excluding horizontal . . .



Top 3 countries for exporting Lathes have been Japan, Germany and Taiwan in 2017 with exported values, 1,65 Billion USD, 1,04 Billion USD, and 629 Million USD respectively. They were followed by South Korea, China and Belgium.

Check out the below table and then we will discuss more to analize the results.


Exported Value in 2017 (USD)

Trade Balance in 2017 ( USD)


6,77 Billion

210 Million


1,65 Billion

1,47 Billion


1,04 Billion

491 Million


629 Million

517 Million

Korea, Republic of

590 Million

471 Million


490 Million

-186 Million


398 Million

-54,4 Million


377 Million

46,7 Million

United States of America

304 Million

-623,45 Million


174 Million

37,2 Million


152,5 Million

16,76 Million


With regard to lathes, Japan and Germany are the strongest in terms of exports. When we look at their trade balance, we can easily say that Japan is the biggest manufacturer of all.

Trade balance in this table gives us the difference in values of exported and imported lathes. To understand well;

Japan exported lathes with a total value of 1,65 Billion USD. This is already clear. Its trade balance is USD 1,47 Billion. It is positive value, meaning the exports are more than imports. How much more? Exactly 1,47 Billion USD more.

This is really a fantastic value. Why? Just compare with other competing countries.

They only import about 200 Million USD.

Now consider how populated is Japan, and how much industrialized? So they surely need lathe machines in large quantities. We can tell that Japan prefer to use lathes produced in japan mostly.



Thay are the second biggest exporter of lathes, sure. They also import a good value. So the trade balance is USD 491 Million. This means they export more than they import. But import value is around 500 Million USD.

When we look at the USA;  we see that USA imports more than it exported. (the negative value in trade balance shows this)  Of course USA is a huge market for lathes, most probably the one of 2 biggest market along with China. ( I do not have any exact values about production and market, so just estimating..)

Now it is time to see the importing countries:


Here I will not make much explanations. The values say it all. Find here the top 30 countries who buys lathes from other countries. USA is the biggest importer of lathes, followed by China and Germany.


Imported Value in 2017 (USD)

Trade Balance in 2017 (Thousand USD)


6,56 Billion

210 Million

United States of America

927,7 Million

-623,4 Million


676 Million

-186,7 Million
















Russian Federation








1,47 Billion










United Kingdom



Korea, Republic of












Viet Nam






Czech Republic


































#5: Most recognized CNC lathe brands, and Top manufacturers

This top list of most recognized CNC lathe and turning machines manufacturers and suppliers is not an ordered list. The companies posted in this list gathered by using google searches, and personal experiences.

The list may miss some of the biggest companies, please send us an email to notify us for any missing companies that you think it must have been included here.



DMG MORI CNC Lathes manufacturer

German – Japanese top CNC lathe manufacturer with a strong history

DMG MORI AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT is a worldwide leading manufacturer of machine tools with sales revenues of more than € 2.3 billion and more than 7,000 employees. As “Global One Company” − together with DMG MORI COMPANY LIMITED – we reach sales revenues of more than € 3.3 billion.

The range of products includes turning and milling machines as well as Advanced Technologies, such as ULTRASONIC, LASERTEC and ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, plus automation and integrated technology solutions.


Okuma CNC Lathes manufacturer

Japanese company manufactures CNC lathes. One of (maybe the first) most recognized cnc lathe suppliers of the world.


Okuma Corporation celebrates the 120th anniversary of the company’s establishment, which officially took place in January, 2018. Okuma was founded in 1898 to produce and sell noodle making machines, and started manufacturing machine tools in 1904.

For Okuma — the world is a stage Serving the world with “monozukuri” (exceptional craftsmanship).

Okuma sales by Region 2017: JAPAN 43% / AMERICAS 26%  / ASIA PACIFIC 16% / EUROPE 15%


Yamazaki mazak cnc lathes

The Global Leader in Machine Tools- Turning centers, Machining centers, Multi-tasking, Hybrid multi-tasking, Laser processing, CNC technology, Automation and IoT solutions.

Total 8.398 Employee worldwide and active since 1919.


One of Japan’s and World’s biggest suppliers of CNC Lathes and milling machines.

Total sales of 1,6 Billion USD in 2018 worldwide.

#6: Alternative manufacturers of CNC lathes