Monday, December 12, 2016

How to Create the Right Warm-Up Routine for Your CNC Machine

Think of your favorite athlete. While you rarely see them warming up on TV, every professional athlete has a warm-up routine they use. If they don’t, they risk injury, and they often don’t perform as well during the contest.

Though not human, your CNC machine works the same way and needs a warm-up routine of its own too.

When you have the right warm-up routine in place, your CNC machine’s lubricated better, which reduces friction and wear and the potential for something to break, and improves the life of your CNC machine. That saves you downtime and unnecessary repair costs.

As you know, heat causes thermal expansion in your CNC machinery. When you warm up your machine, that keeps its temperature stable, which minimizes thermal expansion. That means you get consistent cutting. When you don’t warm-up your machine, thermal expansion has a more pronounced effect, which leads to inconsistent machining. That means you could end up with some unhappy customers who don’t like their product.

When Should You Warm-Up Your CNC Machine?

There’s four times when you know you need to run your warm-up routine:
  • Any time your CNC machine has been idle for more than 4 hours.
  • If your shop is colder, you should run your warm-up routine even if your CNC machine simply sits idle during your lunch break.
  • If you must have a tight cut every time, let the warm-up routine run whenever you take small breaks of any kind.
  • When you need to run your spindle at high speeds right away.
What Should Your Warm-Up Program Do?

In many cases, CNC machine manufacturers supply their own warm-up program. If they give you one, then your job is done. No need to create a different warm-up.

However, that’s not always the case. So, you have to create your own warm-up program. Here’s some things to consider if you find yourself in that situation:
  • Run your warm-up routine for 200 seconds, starting with the slowest RPM and working your way up to the maximum.
  • If you’re running a high-speed machine, again start slow, but only work your way up to the normal operating range, rather than the maximum operating speed.
  • You only need to do this for your initial warm-up in the morning. If you have a break during the day, leave your spindle running at its normal operating speed during that time to keep your CNC machine ready to go.
  • You should also cycle your tool changer, lathe turret, and briefly turn on the coolant to make sure all are ready to go.
With a simple warm-up routine like this, your CNC machine stays ready to make precise cuts. You prolong the life of your machine and minimize the need for repairs. And your customers stay happy because you give them quality product every time.

Keep this routine in mind whenever you need to run your CNC machine

Monday, December 5, 2016

How to Tell if Your CNC Plasma Machine’s 5 Consumables Are Worn

You bought your CNC plasma cutting machine to make precise cuts on wide range of cuts and to keep your consumable costs low. You want to keep both of those benefits. But when your consumables wear down, you lose your precision cutting ability you’re your consumable costs start to go up.

If you’re new to plasma cutting, how do you know if your consumables are worn down or working properly…before they reach the crisis point?

Come along with us to learn the signs of consumable wear and proper functioning:

The Nozzle

Many problems happen with plasma cutting machine’s nozzles. It’s the most common source of issues out of all the consumables.

With use, the nozzle’s orifice loses its roundness. Eventually, it gets so wide that you lose the arc you’re used to cutting with. The metal that you cut, which you’re used to falling out in a certain shape, gets wider over time. You also cut slower because that constricted arc has lost some of its heat and is now widened out.  If your nozzle is shaped like an oval, it’s worn out and needs replacing.

The Swirl Ring

For the most part, you don’t notice deterioration over time in your swirl ring. However, it can eventually crack from use, or if you drop it. If it’s not channeling gas like it should, you’ll have to replace it.

Retaining Cap

Like the swirl ring, your retaining cap can also crack from being dropped. For the most part, however, that’s all you’ll have to look for.

The Shield

Slag can build up on the end of the shield over time. That can reduce airflow and the quality of your cut, so make sure you remove any slag from your shield.

The Electrode

Over time, you may find you develop a pit at the front of your electrode. Here’s a really important point: replace your electrode once the pit depth exceeds 1/32 of an inch. If you run your electrode to failure, which you’ll notice because you see an ominous green glow in your arc, you’ll cause serious (and costly) damage to the rest of your plasma cutting machine. Always change your electrode and nozzle together.

When you watch for these signs of wear, in addition to engaging in preventative maintenance, you keep your consumables in top condition so you consistently make precision cuts – and quality product your customers love. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why and When to Warm Up Your CNC Machine

Think of your favorite professional athlete. Or, maybe you’re more of a music person. Even though they might be the best in the world at what they do, they both still take the time to warm up. They don’t suddenly run out on the field, the court, or the stage and start playing. They still have to get their mind and body ready so they can do their full performance to the best of their ability that day.

Your CNC machine’s no different. It needs a little bit of a warm up before working at full speed. This distributes lubrication oil evenly, which reduces wear on your CNC machine and increases its life. As you know, heat can also cause your machine and its tools to expand, even if ever-so-slightly. But, you don’t even want a little expansion because that affects the precision of your cutting. Warming your machine up keeps it operating at a stable temperature so you don’t have to worry about that.

When To Warm Up Your CNC Machine

It turns out your CNC machine may actually need more than one warm-up during the day. Assuming you have a shop with at least mild temperatures and that you never give your CNC machine more than a 4-hour break during the day, you only need to warm it up once. However, if it stays cold inside your shop throughout the day, you should give your CNC machine a warm-up even if you’ve only let it sit idle for your lunch break.

You should also give your CNC machine a warm-up if your project requires a tight tolerance. That means if you even take a short break to run to the bathroom, you should leave a warm-up routine executing.

For your spindles, make sure you warm those up when you need to run them at high speeds. You should also do this if your CNC machine’s spindle had not been operating for at least the last 4 days.

Your CNC machine’s manufacturer often has a custom made warm-up program for your machine. If it’s available, use it. If not, you’ll have to make your own.

Stay tuned to this blog because we’ll have a guide that helps you create the right warm-up program for your needs. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

3 Ways to Boost Your CNC Machining Speed

Do you do your job as fast as you want? Do you struggle to keep up with deadlines and production goals? Or, are you the proactive thinker, always looking for smarter and faster ways to do the job, without sacrificing quality?

Whatever the case, you can boost your speed. See if implementing any of these tips will help you:

Optimize Your Cut Depth and Width

This is tough to do manually. You can spend years trying hundreds of combinations, or sticking to a rule of thumb. But, the problem with that is you might miss out on the optimal cut depth and width for a certain project anyway.

These days, you need to rely on software. It can quickly run hundreds of comparisons for you and find the optimum cut depth and width so you don’t have to spend years trying to find them on your own.

What to Do When Your Feed Rates Aren’t Fast Enough

You can experience this issue when cutting soft materials that have big chip loads. CNC router users see this problem the most frequently of all CNC machinists.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to work around. If you’ve maxed out your feed rate, slow down the RPM on the spindle. This in turn reduces the feed rate necessary. You can also try using a smaller cutter, and that will give the added benefit of a lower chipload too.

Finally, you can also try reducing the number of flutes on your cutter. Going down from a 4-flute cutter to a single flute gives you ¼ of the feed rate. Exceptions to this rule exist for sticky materials, but you can ignore that for now.

A Few Other Techniques You Can Use

There are a number of “high speed machining” techniques you can use to increase your speed. You can combine the rough and finish passes. Use smaller tooling because it generally moves faster. Use a cut width of 5-15% of the tool diameter because it allows the tool more time for cooling down. Also, use toolpath strategies that avoid the loss of productivity cutting corners can cause.

You can do a lot more to increase the speed of your CNC machining. But, that’s all we have time for now. Stay tuned – more fast machining tips to come in the future!

Monday, October 17, 2016

What Top CNC Machining Shops Do Differently

Some CNC machining shops way outperform others. Only common sense tells you that.

But what’s hard to figure out is why. If you knew that, then you could start to modify your CNC machine shop so you become one of the leaders. And it might even inspire  your thinking to the point where you find ways to innovate beyond your competitors.

So what do top CNC machining shops do that the rest of the pack doesn’t?

These things:

Top Shops Almost Always Use 5-Axis Machining

According to the 2016 Top Shops Executive Summary, top shops are much more likely to use this technology than others. It doesn’t matter whether this is 3+2 positioning or full contouring. It’s simply the easiest, most efficient way to create complex parts with the least number of touches.

And, most top shops use more advanced machining technology and techniques like high-speed machining and hard turning.

Only Doing Projects and Taking on Strategy That Fits Within Your Business’s Purpose

What’s the defined purpose of your CNC machine shop? If you’re like most, you probably don’t have one. So, maybe it’s time to define one.

When you define your purpose, that tells you exactly which projects you take on and why. That means you get more efficient at creating high value for your customers.

And as you might guess, that means higher profits and long streams of customers for you. So, if a certain action or customer doesn’t advance your business’s purpose, strongly consider not doing it.

If you want to be really good at dozens of things, then you’ll have to build additional shops and teams who can specialize in those.

Top Shops are Independent Shops, Not Small Components of Large Companies

While larger companies certainly are capable of success, the best of the best most often are independent shops. It may be because the independents are able to customize their tools and processes to meet niche needs much more effectively than the big guys. In general, they also focus on repeating jobs.

This data, by the way, also comes from MMSOnline’s annual Top Shops survey. Top shops make an average of 2,097 different parts per year, compared to an amazing 5,874 for the average shop.

There’s much more that the top CNC shops do that average companies don’t. Make sure you read the Top Shops survey to learn how you can stand out from the competition. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

5 Tips for Using a Slitting Saw Safely and Effectively

Do you know anyone who has had a major accident with a saw of any kind? It’s not something you want to find yourself on the wrong end of.

And, with every tool you use, you want to make sure you get the most out of it. You can avoid many mistakes with your slitting saw by reading and applying these tips:

How to Cut Deeply

With slitting saws, there’s two different ways of thinking. Some people say you should cut the whole slot in your project in just a single pass so chips don’t get caught up inside.

Others say you should only cut to a depth of 2-4 saw thicknesses in a pass. In fact, most people prefer this approach, so it’s a tough decision you’ll have to make.

Some people do push their slitting saws further than this. That’s okay if you have the perfect setup and know exactly what you’re doing. If you’re uncertain about any of your setup, avoid doing it.

Use the Thickest Saw Blade Possible

If you’re just starting, make sure you have a 1/16” saw blade and 1/8” saw blade. This makes the saw blade easier to control so you get a more precise, quality cut. And it also means the blade will have more strength and resistance to shattering.

Should You Go With Carbide or High Speed Steel (HSS)?

Carbide’s more expensive, but it’s always more rigid than steel. Steel’s much cheaper. If your budget can handle it, and maybe even if it can’t, you should go with carbide blades.

Double-Check Your Feeds and Speeds

Because slitting saws are so much smaller and don’t have much mass, they get hot quick. It’s a common experience among CNC machine operators to run their slitting saw at seemingly normal feed or speed ratess, only to end up ruining the tool. Make sure you calculate the appropriate feeds and speeds for your situation.

The larger your slitting saw is, the slower it will have to run. You’ll also needs lots of coolant when you have long cut paths. Make sure you use flood coolant because that lets you cut fast.

Selecting a Slitting Saw Arbor

When you get an arbor, make sure you get one that has a deep cap with a low profile. You’ll want to do this so you have clearance if you have to cut a project that must sit in a vice.

Those are some simple slitting saw basics. Keep them in mind as you work on your project so you get the best quality cut possible. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Are You Lagging Behind with a Legacy CNC Machine?

What blue-collar CNC machinist doesn’t like getting a decade, maybe two, out of their CNC machine? You’re hard-working, efficient, and value-conscious. And there’s no better feeling in the world than when you get your money’s worth out of anything, including your CNC machine.

But, with how rapidly technology advances, you have to sometimes consider if it might not actually be a good value-based decision to replace your machine before it breaks down. So, let’s say you still have your good ol’ reliable legacy CNC machine, or maybe several of them.

And let’s say they’re all working just fine. You don’t have to sink thousands of dollars into them to repair them. They maintain pretty decent productivity levels.

Why might you change a good thing like this? Here’s some points to consider:

You Can Streamline Work Processes for Greater Automation

Nothing wrong with doing things manually because of the higher degree of control you have. But, you sacrifice productivity because you have to do the work yourself, rather than automating it with help from your CNC machine.

New software lets you integrate directly with personal computers. You can simplify part changeover. 

You can set your machine up so when you scan the barcode for a work order, it automatically selects the program and process sheets.

With new technology, automation of processes is really unlimited.

Multitasking with 5-Axis (or more) CNC Machines Boosts Your Productivity

With just a single machine tool, you can complete many operations. That’s an obvious boost in productivity. But, you can also increase precision too because you don’t have to clamp your part into place. When you set yourself up for multitasking, you can also save yourself valuable floor space you can use for other business purposes.

All these seemingly little improvements can give you quite an edge over the competition. So, if your company seems to be falling behind, and you don’t know why, this could very well be one of your main problems.

Plus, you’ll have happier customers too because you can complete orders faster and with greater degrees of accuracy. You’ll have to decide whether the investment makes sense for your company, but the overall benefits for most companies are clear. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Is Your CNC Machine Down? Here’s What You Can Do!

It’s your worst nightmare when running your CNC machine. You’re chugging along, happy with your productivity. Maybe even excited because you know you’re going to have something to good to show your boss. And then your machine stops doing anything.

Or, maybe your CNC machine didn’t even start up in the first place. It happens because even the best CNC machinery eventually breaks down. Nothing’s perfect.

So what could be going on? Without being there, we can’t say. But, we can give you some ideas of what to do so you can save time and get back up and running fast:

Set Up a Good Maintenance Schedule in the First Place

Okay, so if your CNC machine has already broke down, this doesn’t do you any good. However, it’s a must if you don’t already have a regular maintenance routine in place because it eliminates most future breakdowns. The best way to do it is to create a baseline of all your alignments and write down all the numbers you have when your CNC machine makes a good part.

You should check your machine frequently afterwards. Base your check on how much you use your machine, whether your shop floor has settled at all, and if your CNC machine’s had a little abuse from an accident or two around your shop.

Don’t Check Your Software First! Do This Instead…

For CNC machinists, checking the software is the natural first urge. Don’t do it! You’ll only drive yourself crazy as you wander around in logistical circles.

In most cases, the real cause of your problem will be your geometric alignments. So check all those first.

Common Causes of CNC Machine Failure

The most common reasons your CNC machine fails are because of two things present in abundant quantities in nearly every CNC machining environment: heat and contaminants. Lubricants, cutting fluids, scrap metal shavings, dirt, oil, and dust can be found everywhere.

Top this off with the fact that most production floors run hot, and you have the perfect recipe for CNC machine failure at some point. Yes, the cabinets are outfitted with AC. But, your AC can get clogged with all those contaminants we talked about before.

Your routine maintenance plan needs to address these issues so you stay up and running efficiently over the long haul. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

CNC Machining’s Best Kept Secret: Parametric Programming

Even experienced CNC machinists aren’t always familiar with parametric programming. And those that do know of it, often don’t know how to use it. Once you understand what it is and how it can improve your CNC machining life, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t taken the time to learn it in the past.

What Is Parametric Programming?

You can easily compare this type of programming to any computer program language. Parametric programming allows you to create custom macros, which as you might guess, are quite useful to many businesses. But as it stands, they’re not even using the custom macros which could boost their productivity noticeably.

Here’s some other situations where parametric programming comes in handy:

 Families of parts

Pretty easy one here. If you cut families of parts repeatedly, you’re going to benefit from custom macros.

General purpose routines: 

Okay, so let’s say you’ve created custom macros for parts families. Well, you do likely also have certain cuts you have to make on a routine basis. You know what they are. And they’re a perfect opportunity for parametric programming.

One benefit for this kind of parametric programming is that programs become shorter and easier to change. If you’d like to learn more, these routines are commonly referred to as “user-created canned cycles.”

Any complex motion you need to make: 

Let’s say you need to cut a taper on a thread. Now, that’s a difficult motion to pull off. Instead of programming that one every time, create a macro to save yourself time. To put it in perspective, parametric programming would only require 50 lines or so of code in G code. Do this on a CAM system, and the exact same process requires hundreds or thousands of commands.

 Any other process that takes time: 

Think about how you use your CNC machinery here. How long does it take you to set it up? What if you need to transfer a program? Consider all the steps you have to implement with your CNC machine, and then replace those repetitive ones with macros.

When it comes to parametric programming, the most common uses you’ll find for it include for families of parts and creating your own canned cycles. Once you get these functions programmed in, you’ll be glad you did because it saves you so much time and improves your productivity. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started with Ballscrews

New to CNC machining? You might wonder, like many others, what ballscrews are all about.

What is a ballscrew, and why would you use one anyway?

First, take a look at ballscrew theory. Think of this as your introductory college course to ballscrews. Very simply, ball screws transfer rotational motion into linear motion with next to no friction. They do this at about 90% efficiency. This is far more efficient than any other method that does the same. This greater efficiency also means ballscrews also have a much longer life than other components that perform the same function.

Why would you use a ballscrew?

They’re usually used in situations where you have a lot of lead or need a lot of life. They compare to lead screws, which get used for the same purpose, but they’re used in smaller, lighter duty applications. Lead screws also have more customizability, as you can change the leads, sizes, and their nut configurations quickly and with ease.

How do Ballscrews Work?

They’re pretty simple in nature. The threads on a ballscrew allow a hardened steel ball to transfer rotational motion from a ball nut into linear motion along the shaft. Inside of the ball nut, there’s grooves, and these grooves fit with those on the shaft, allowing the multiple balls to travel along.

Ballscrews also have a high degree of accuracy. They can easily be accurate to 1/10000th of an inch.

Comparing 2 Types of Ballscrews

When you look to buy ballscrews, you’ll run into these common types:

Ground ballscrews
Rolled ballscrews

Ground ballscrews are made when abrasive wheels cut the channels the ball moves through. While they carry a higher price, they do have high tolerances and exceptional accuracy. They also tend to operate much more quietly than rolled ballscrews.

Speaking of rolled ballscrews, their main benefit over ground ballscrews is their cheaper cost. In fact, they can easily cost 15-20x less than their ground counterparts. However, you will sacrifice accuracy. Rolled ballscrews can be found with accuracies similar to that of ground ones. But, they also then carry the same price.

In nearly every case, ground ballscrews work out better than rolled. So when deciding which to use for your CNC machine, the question usually comes down to the accuracy you need and the price you’re willing to pay for it.

Hope that helps

Thursday, July 14, 2016

CNC Machine Modes of Operation

All right. More CNC machine basics here. Today, we’re discussing the various modes of operation your CNC machine can use.

Let’s get right to it:

Manual Mode

Note that this differs from Manual Data Input (MDI) mode. In manual mode, your CNC machine acts like a standard machine. You can operate it just like you would any other machine that doesn’t use programming. You can push buttons, turn wheels, and turn switches on or off.

The difference between manual mode and manual data input mode is that with MDI, you can do certain things that you can’t in manual mode. More on that in a second.

Manual Data Input Mode (Also Called MDI or MDA Mode)

In this mode, you can do some programming and data entry. However, everything you enter will only be done once. If you need all the functions done again, you’ll have to program them again.
The advantage of this mode is that you can do manual operations that simply cannot be done in manual mode. Some CNC machines, for example, don’t have manual controls to change the spindle speed.

 Single Block Mode

Each CNC program is made of blocks. They may be numbered something like N20, N30, and N40. When you enter this mode, just a single block of code executes. Additionally, this means your CNC machine only stops moving on its access. For example, the machine spindle keeps turning, and coolant continues to flow too.

Edit Mode

Just as it sounds, you can enter programs in your CNC machine’s memory, or you can modify current programs. Programs are usually organized by number, and you can make the program you want active.

You can also insert new info into the program, alter its current info, or delete info from it. Some, but not all, CNC programs allow you to cut, paste, find, and replace data just like you would in word processing software.

Automatic Mode/Program Operation Mode

Again, no surprises here. In this mode, you get to find out how well you did with creating your program. So, take a deep breath, and execute yours. Most CNC machines allow you to see the commands executed as they happen. So, if you notice a mistake, you will be able to easily identify where it is in your program.

Those are your basic modes of operation. Feelin’ ready? Awesome. Time to give your CNC machine a try!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 CNC Machining Basics Every Beginner Should Know

“Fail your way forward” is a common saying among entrepreneurs. And it’s the way many of us learn.

Mistakes are okay. But some of the big ones can really cost you. So why not avoid them by reading the tips below, if you’re a beginning CNC machinist:

Knowing How to Program A Sequence of Machining Operations

Let’s start with this obvious one, which is one of the biggest advantages of CNC machines: programming sequences so workpieces can be quickly and efficiently cut. It gets a little tricky though because every CNC machine’s different. So, the real trick may be getting acclimated with the particular machine you’re about to work on.

The basic process for understanding a new CNC machine is to:
  • ·         Learn the most basic components
  • ·         Get comfortable with the various axes
  • ·         Understand any accessories
  • ·         Know how the programming works

Incremental Versus Absolute Programming, And When to Use Them

These are the two types of programming modes for CNC machines. Neither is overtly right or wrong. Most controls on CNC machines can do both.

The difference between the two? Incremental programs use their source location as the preceding point. With absolute programs, the source location is always the same fixed, original point.

Have a Decent Vise

Yes, vises cost some money. But, they’re well worth it. A good one lasts for years. And with CNC machining, there’s nothing more valuable than holding what you’re currently working on in precisely the same place.

Use a Misting Setup if You Don’t Have Flood Coolant

Yes, a misting setup costs some money too. But it’s well worth it for the problems it prevents. Not all CNC machines have flood coolant. You can get a decent misting setup relatively inexpensively if you’re willing to search hard enough.

Be Paranoid about Chip Removal

At the very least, chips cause additional wear on your cutters. You’ll have to replace them sooner than you should. At the very worst, you break your cutter. And that can lead to an inaccurate cut, or pieces you need to cut again.

As you cut, watch for any chip buildup. Adjust your mister’s nozzle until you know exactly how to position it correctly without further adjustments.

If you follow those tips, you’ll be well on your way to making quick and accurate cuts without experiencing many of the problems other beginning CNC machinists run into. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Quick Introduction to Post Processors

You’ve probably heard of “post processors.” But if you’re like most CNC machine operators, it’s kind of a foggy idea. You realize you know the term, but you’re not quite sure about much else.
Don’t sweat it! We have you covered. Here’s some introductory info to make sure you know:

First, What is a Post Processor?
Your CNC cutting machine needs to know what commands you’re giving it. A post processor is software that translates CAD or CAM data to specific commands your CNC cutting machine can understand. Whatever CAD or CAM system you use, it has a certain point where it produces generic output called a “CL-file.”
This “CL-file” only represents the paths your CNC machine will take when cutting your part. However, these paths are not yet specific to your CNC machine. So, that’s where post processor software comes in and translates this CL-file into specific data your CNC machine can use.
See, not so hard to understand how it works now, is it?

Why Do You Need Post Processor Software?
The final accuracy of your cut and optimal use of your CNC machine depends on your post processor software. Without it, or with poor software, you can end up with longer cycle times, damaged parts, ruined equipment, and injuries to employees. That all translates to wasted time and money at your business too.
That can also mean lower part quality. And that can lead to angry customers who take their business elsewhere.

 A Fair Warning about Post Processing Software!
With this kind of software, there’s a wide range of quality. If you don’t recognize the company making the software, you have a good chance of getting post processing software that only causes you more headaches. Go with a name that’s well-known to prevent problems. And you should take extra caution to follow this guideline if you have complex machining needs.

Example Post Processing Customizations You Might Use
If you have more than a single person doing CNC cutting, you’re going to save serious time and increase your productivity with post processing software. You might use it for probing, custom drill patterns, setting familiar patterns, right angle heads, tracking tool life, documenting your G-Code to add clarity for operators, or to set variable setup options.

Finally, make sure you have an open post processor. Some companies “close” them, which means only a particular authorized party can customize them. That could add quite a bit to your costs if you’re not aware of it ahead of time.

Post processing software can make quite a difference at scale. Consider implementing and customizing it if you haven’t already. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5-Axis Machining: Not As Hard As You Think

First, you had X, Y, and Z. That was hard enough. And now you can cut on the A and B axis too.

But it can be a little intimidating when you’re just learning 5-axis machining for the first time. Don’t worry though – you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Cutting on all 5 axes isn’t as tough as you think. So relax, take a deep breath, and read these tips to make your first 5-axis machining experiences as successful as possible:

Should You Have a CAM System?
In the overwhelming majority of situations, no, you do not need one. If you only need to program 2D and 2.5D 3-axis work on different sides of the same part, you can use conversational programming to do the job.

However, if you do need to run full 5-axis simultaneous work, you do need a CAM system. But, this only happens in about 20% of all situations, and maybe even fewer than that.

Will I Have Any Additional Maintenance Costs?
If you do, they’ll be minor at the very worst. That’s because really the only additional check you may need to make would be to re-measure the centerlines for the A and B axes. You might want to do this annually to make sure all the cuts are done right. But, that’s it.

The CAM Software You Should Use
Good news: if you’re happy with your current CAM software, you don’t need to make a change. So, that’s not absolutely essential for doing the job.

However, you may want to consider making a change if you just tolerate your software and have been thinking about a change for some time already. As you know, some CAM software manufacturers make a better product than others.

The Main Difference Between a 5-Axis and 3-Axis Setup
To help ease your fear about trying this new setup, take a look at an example. Say you’re cutting a part that would benefit from a 5-axis setup. Normally, you’d manually flip the part and do more setups to finish the work. However, with a 5-axis setup, you simply program the parts you would normally setup manually.

You do the entire setup just like you would do a manual one. You first create an origin point. Then you create a work plane your tool axis will be perpendicular to. Finally, you program the 3 axis geometry needed to finish that side of the piece.

That’s it. Nothing to be too worried about at all. And the best part yet? You’ll be so much more efficient in your production. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

CNC Machinery FAQ: Top 4 Questions about CNC Machinery

Whether you own, or are considering buying CNC machinery, you’re probably full of questions about it.
Don’t worry. We have you covered. Here’s some of the more common questions we find many customers like you have:
Q: We’re strapped for time. Should we consider training?
A: Only if you want to dramatically reduce the time it takes to produce the parts and start making more money more efficiently almost immediately. Seriously, regardless of the process you use, it’s worth your time finding a qualified expert to help you create a more efficient process that delivers the same quality of products, and possibly better.
Just make sure you research their background carefully and that they take the time to ask you questions so they have a 100% clear understanding of your problem. This may even be worth investigating for routine processes you haven’t analyzed for years.

Q: When Should I Upgrade my CNC Machinery?
A: There’s a lot of subjectivity in this question. First, you’ll have to analyze your needs and see how well your machinery meets them. At the same time, start talking to vendors out there to see what’s available in the market.
Of course, you want to get the most life out of your CNC machinery as you can. But a reliable vendor can show you how long it will take for an investment in new or upgraded CNC machinery to pay off.

Q: If I’m Considering Upgrading or Buying New CNC Machinery, What Makes One CNC Machine Different from Another?
A: For the most part, CNC machinery is pretty similar. But, the differences come in the details required to run the router.
For example, preparation, programming, procedures, assembly, sorting, and error handling are the main cost areas you’ll want to investigate closely.

Q: What Should I Look for in a CNC Machine?
A: Before you look, you should know precisely what you need your CNC machine to do, what you want to make with it, and how you’re going to do that. Some areas of consideration that you might look at, depending on your needs, include:
  • ·         The level of precision you need
  • ·         Finish
  • ·         How productive you want to be
  • ·         How long you’ll need the CNC machine to live before replacing it
  • ·         And of course, the price you can afford

The price question generally gets answered on its own after you analyze all the other considerations.

We hope these answers help guide you in finding more efficient and profitable ways to use your CNC machinery in 2016 and beyond!