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.