How to use CNC machine step by step
CNC machines are used for any number of different applications in a wide variety of industries, across the board. As such, there is no universal way to program a CNC machine. Depending on what it is being used to do and the tooling involved, writing code for a CNC machine differs wildly. You will find that each CNC machine comes with its own unique set of elements and capabilities which you should be aware of and overcome in your programming process.
An Overview on CNC Machines
CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. It is used in manufacturing to control machine tools (drills, routers, lathes) and formerly to control many other types of machinery (such as sewing machines and 3D printers).
A CNC machine takes a piece of material (metal, plastic, wood, ceramic, or composite) and removes parts of it to make a product according to the specifications of the designer. This can be done by milling the material away using a spinning cutting tool (also known as a router) or by using a laser. The CNC machine can repeat this process hundreds or thousands of times with incredible precision. The cutters can be very small — 0.005 inches or smaller — which allows for very intricate products to be made.
In this article, we will provide an overview of CNC machines and their setup.
Advantages of CNC Machining
The advantages of using CNC machining for product manufacturing include:
Efficient and cost-effective production. By programming the CNC machining process, you can increase your manufacturing efficiency by reducing waste and lowering costs. For example, you can program a CNC machine to produce multiple items with the same specifications, making it easy to achieve a high volume of production.
Precise cutting capabilities. With CNC machining, you can achieve precise cuts that would be difficult or impossible with other machining methods. For example, a diamond drill bit can cut through hard materials such as glass and ceramics with more precision than other types of cutting tools.
Increased productivity. CNC machines are able to work for extended periods without human supervision or involvement, allowing manufacturers to work faster and more efficiently. In addition, if manufacturers need to change a design or make other adjustments, they can simply reprogram the machine with the new specifications rather than starting from scratch.
How to Select the Right CNC Machine Tool
A CNC machine tool is an investment that requires you to do your homework. There are many variables to consider, so it’s important to make a list of your priorities and then review the options available. Here are tips for selecting the right CNC machine tool for your industrial application:
What is the part size? When selecting a CNC machine tool, you should have an idea of the part size or range of sizes. This can help you determine how much machine you will need. You don’t want to buy a machine that is larger than required or one that can only handle small parts when you will eventually want to produce something larger. Consider what materials you will be cutting and check with the manufacturer regarding spindle speed and power, feed rate, and other capabilities that may be affected by a certain material.
What is the part shape? The type of part you plan to produce has an effect on which type of CNC machine tool you should use as well as what accessories may be needed, such as a rotary table for 4th axis machining. The shape of your part may dictate whether you need a vertical or horizontal machining center, or whether a turning center (lathe) would be more suitable for production.
The Procedure to Setup a Lathe Machine
1. Clear the bed of the lathe machine off all debris, such as shavings and chips from previous work.
2. Mount the workpiece on the bed of the lathe with a chuck if it is a cylindrical object, or by any other means if it is an irregular object.
3. Select the appropriate cutting tool for machining the workpiece and mount it onto the tool post of the machine.
4. Select proper cutting speed and depth of cut, based on various factors including properties of the workpiece, type of operation to be performed, type of cut, etc.
We have already discussed in detail various factors affecting cutting speed and depth of cut in a separate article.
5. Start the machine. Move the carriage forward so that tool cuts into the workpiece and feeds along its length at a steady rate while rotating at high speeds according to the desired RPM set by the operator.
6. When the required shape has been obtained, stop the machine and remove the finished workpiece from the lathe.
Steps to Set Up Your CNC Milling Machine
CNC Milling Machines are manufactured by companies such as Haas Automation, Inc., Aciera, Fadal Engineering, Inc., Dmg Mori Usa, Inc., Doosan Machine Tools Co., Ltd., Hurco Companies, Inc., and others. CNC Milling Machines are used for machining solid materials with a cylindrical shape. These machines can work with metals or other materials.
Steps to Set Up Your CNC Milling Machine:
1) Power on the machine and wait for it to initialize.
2) Select your program.
3) Choose your desired speed and depth of cut.
4) Engage the machine’s spindle.
5) Load your material into the machine’s bed.
6) Ensure that the spindle is locked in place when necessary and begin the milling process
These are the steps you should take in order to set up your CNC machine
1 Step: Install controller software
2 Step: Install driver
3 Step: Connect PC to CNC Controller
4 Step: Start machinist software
5 Step: Start powering up the machine
6 Step: Move Motors one axis at a time
7 Step: Zero Entering and Touch Off Procedures
8 Step: Milling your first part with CNC Router
CNC milling machine safety
There are a number of safety issues and considerations that must be observed while working with CNC milling machines. CNC milling machines are capable of critical and precise work, but the dangers inherent in their function mean safety precautions should be taken when working with them.
Personal Protective Equipment: One of the most important safety precautions is to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, eye protection, and ear protection. Any clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the machine must also be removed before operating the machine.
Preventative Maintenance: While operating a CNC milling machine, it is important to make sure that everything is working properly. If a problem occurs, the operator should immediately shut down the machine and troubleshoot it. Preventative maintenance will help prevent problems from occurring during use.