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!