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.