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Bar turning industry

A brief history of bar turning

Born of the watchmaking industry, bar turning, or "décolletage" in French, began to take root in the Arve Valley in the 18th century. At the time, this machining operation ("dégagement") involved clearing the "collar" (collet) of screws using appropriate lathes. The association of both terms created the French name "décolletage" for bar turning.

In 1720, a craftsman by the name of Claude Ballaloud settled in Saint-Sigismond, a small mountain village in Haute-Savoie. Here, he trained many craftsmen and farmers as bar turning workers.
Back then, people worked with animals during the summer and used the workshop next to the barn to "manufacture parts" in winter.
Since then, bar turning has never ceased to evolve, reaching an increasingly advanced technological level.
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The rise of bar turning...

At the end of the following century, companies that had previously specialized in bar turning for the watchmaking industry began to diversify and work for other industrial sectors. This development was greatly accelerated by the First World War, when the French government called on Haute-Savoie industries to participate in the national armament effort.
This marked the rise of bar turning, which has since been in constant development.
In the early 1970s, bar turning developed even further, when it began to supply the automotive industry and the electronics, electrical and household appliance markets with bar-turned mechanical parts.
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...and its modernization

In the 1980s, the supply of parts for the automotive market continued to increase, leading to the development of the factories in the Arve Valley. Lathes became numerically controlled thanks to computer science, reducing changeover times between different products and enabling the production of increasingly technical and intricate parts.

Today, bar turning companies are constantly modernizing, in particular through the automation of their production processes, in order to continue to supply the quality parts at the heart of the local expertise, a particularly well established know-how in Haute-Savoie.

Machining of revolving parts...

Bar turning is the mass-produced machining of revolving parts using automatic lathes that operate with cam systems (traditional bar turning) or numerical controls (CNC bar turning).

This machining operation is performed on bars made of various materials (brass, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, plastics...), generally with a diameter as close as possible to the outside diameter of the finished part.

Profiles can also be turned, the most common example being hexagonal bars for hexagonal nuts.

Material is removed using carbide or high-speed steel tools. Bar turning is ensured by constantly applying cutting fluids to the tools in order to cool and lubricate them.

...with bar turning machines

Originally, bar turning was intended for simple turned parts: a technology particularly well-suited to the manufacture of screws and bolts.

With the modernization of metalworking methods and the application of high-volume production, bar turning has become an important area of expertise of mechanics and machining, allowing the production of identical turned parts in very large series, machined from cylindrical or profiled section bars to the most advanced degree of completion.

A number of manufacturers have developed highly sophisticated machines, first semi-automatic and then automatic, enabling an optimum output that combines :
High precision
Very high productivity
Rationalization of manufacturing costs
These machines are often referred to as automatic lathes or simply bar turning machines. 

Did you know?

France is one of the world leaders in bar turning, with national sales approaching 2 billion euros. 50% of French bar turning companies are based in Haute-Savoie, more specifically in the Arve Valley and around the town of Cluses (commonly referred to as “the bar turning capital of the world”), i.e. nearly 460 companies employing more than 8,800 people.

Bar turning is used to manufacture the most common everyday parts, such as screws, nuts, watch axles, pistons, cogs, bicycle wheel axles, rivets, etc., among many other applications.
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