Every machine tool performs several functions. It holds a work piece and a cutting tool and moves one or both of these objects. It must also provide a feeding process for the tool or the work piece. Turning operations produces a cutting action by rotating a work piece against a fixed tool. The cutting action produces a cylindrical surface. The lathe is the type of machine tool used for performing turning operations.
Diamond turning is used to describe any turning operation that use machine tools that are equipped with diamond-tipped tool bits. This operation is used for the production optical elements. Optical elements created by the means of diamond turning are mostly used in optical assemblies in telescopes, video projectors, missile guidance systems, lasers, scientific research instruments, and many other systems and devices.
Diamond turning involves several stages of processing. Computer controlled lathes are used in the early stages with escalating accuracy. A diamond lathe tool is only used in the final stages of the process to achieve surface finishes with sub-nanometer accuracy. Controlling of the temperature is crucial for the diamond turning stages. A slight change in the temperature can have significant effect on the quality of the finish.