Lathe guards are visors or shields that act as point-of-operation protective barriers that guard workers and operators when they are in close proximity to a spinning lathe. They prevent accident or injuries caused by debris, chips, shavings and broken tool bits flying at high speeds. Lathe guards also keep fingers a safe distance from the lathe, which spins at very high RPM (rotations per minute).
Lathe guards are machine guards used in any facility that uses a lathe, including manufacturing facilities, factories, fabrication facilities and workshops. Metal spinning, wood working and glass blowing all work around lathes, and therefore require the use of a lathe guard during every operation. They must be able to handle continuous high impact, as flying debris hits these guards in high volumes whenever the lathe is in use. Depending on the application, lathe guards may be fabricated from metal, plastic or wood. They are necessary on both standard and CNC lathes, and those that are hand operated require a transparent sight window to observe the process. Lathes may be static, meaning they do not move and are locked tightly in place, or traversing, meaning they are adjustable both vertically and horizontally, and can sometimes pivot or swing.
Lathe guards are either custom made to fit exact machine dimensions or come in pre-engineered sizes. Their size is dependent on center height of the lathe as well as the diameter of the chuck, which is a clamping device. They are easily installed by a bracket on screws to the chuck or cross-slide, although some attach to other lathe components. Lathe guards may be curved, and therefore shaped like a half circle or be a flat shield with three sides. The most common construction involves an aluminum die-casted frame and a large vision panel made of polycarbonate, a transparent plastic material that acts like glass but has high impact strength, light weight, flexibility and shatter resistance. The sight window is usually about four millimeters thick and exists so the operator can see the fabrication process well. Traversing lathe guards are often able to slide back and fourth along a linear line and can also lock into place while the lathe is in operation. Mounting, removing and adjusting is done easily, and if the lathe operator needs access to the lathe, they swing away or detach.