How to Set a Fanuc CNC Lathe


Setting up a CNC lathe with a Fanuc control is very similar to the processes used with other types of programming and controls by companies such as Haas and Mazak. It is essential to set the raw material, the tools and the program correctly to prevent damage to the machine as well as the tooling. Once set, a Fanuc control can take raw material to a completed part using the program as well as the tools within the machine.

  • Place the tools you need for the operations in your Fanuc program into the tool turret. The program will command the machine to use certain tools for certain operations. They are usually numbered from 1 to 12 and can vary depending on how many tools your turret can hold.

  • Teach each tool so the lathe is aware of each tool position's tip. Enter the diameter and type of each tool on the main tool page, as well. Lower the probe and bring each tool's tip very close. Press the "Teach" button and the machine will slowly bring the tip to the probe and register its location. Enter pertinent information on the same line as the presently "live" tool, such as diameter, type and spindle rotation.

  • Place the material to be cut into the chuck jaws. Place the properly sized jaws for the raw material. Bring one of the tool tips to the edge of the raw material and set the Z axis zero point for the part. This will let the machine know where to start the operations contained within the Fanuc program and will dictate the movements from right to left facing the front on a lathe.

  • Program the machine using Fanuc commands. Fanuc is a programming language similar to G-code that uses macros for certain operations, which are not often used in G-code CNC programming. G-code is the most universal of all of the machining languages and is recognized by all CNC, or computer numerical control, machines. Programming in Fanuc on a Fanuc control utilizes certain commands not often seen on most CNC lathe controls, allowing you to use multiple offsets and multiple zero points within one program.

  • Proof the program to make sure there are no errors. Most CNC lathes will simulate the program using the existing tool information and locations to show you what will happen during the cycle. It will also stop at errors and allow you to correct them. Proofing is essential to any program you run to prevent conflicts dimensionally as well as physically with the part, the machine and the tools.

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  • Photo Credit lathe image by Tomasz Plawski from
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