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.