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.