Technological progress affects all areas of industry, making the production of various products faster and of better quality. A new level of automation is an example of such progress. It helps the manufacturer to save time and human resources.
Let’s take CNC milling machines for example. Despite the fact that classic milling machines have been known to mankind for many decades, the introduction of automation technologies has significantly improved this equipment.
What is a CNC machine? This is electromechanical equipment that makes products according to the program loaded by operator.
Features of CNC milling machines
- Machines that can be programmed to perform tasks of almost any complexity are more expensive than manually controlled machines. However, such equipment has its advantages that are worth every penny.
- Only a certified specialist who knows how to create digital drawings and upload them into the “brain” of the machine can operate CNC machines.
- Although automated equipment consists of similar elements, the design of the machines is different. Most equipment consists of a work table, milling cutter, spindle, and a programmable unit that controls the cutter, as well as a control panel for the operator.
- Some machines are equipped with a set of tools for processing parts, depending on the task and material. The operator replaces tools as necessary (or tools can be replaced automatically).
Advantages of CNC milling machines
Due to their technological advantages, CNC machines are widely used all over the world, including in France, but the French call them fraiseuse à bois CNC. What are the main advantages of CNC machines?
- Manual processing of parts has its disadvantages. Even an experienced specialist is not able to process a workpiece with such precision and detail as automated equipment. Although the operator monitors the operation of the machine, one qualified specialist can simultaneously operate 3-4 CNC machines.
- High speed. Modern equipment processes workpieces of any complexity many times faster. This increases production speed and, as a result, increases the profitability of enterprises. The machine can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the technician only works 6-8 hours, depending on the company’s rules and regulations.
- Manufacturing of products of any complexity. An experienced specialist can make almost any part on a machine, but a CNC machine surpasses human skills and experience. CNC milling machines produce parts with complex geometries.
- Equipment controlled by an “electronic brain” is able to produce the same parts repeatedly, without defects or deviations from the layout.
- One of the key advantages is the optimization of production costs. Because automated equipment operates more accurately, cutter wear is reduced and the number of defective products is minimized.
- Finally, it is worth noting that automated equipment increases safety, since the contact between the cutter and the workpiece occurs without human intervention, and the production process is separated from the operator by a special protective door.
Do CNC machines have any disadvantages?
There are not many obvious disadvantages of modern equipment. Firstly, they are more expensive than traditional universal machines.
Secondly, the equipment is designed for mass production of technically complex products. That is, for small businesses and the production of piece parts in small batches, an expensive machine may become an irrational purchase.
What is a CNC router used for?
Milling machines process almost any material, including wood, metal, plastic, acrylic, composite materials, so they are used in various industries. Let’s give a few examples.
- Mechanical engineering. The mentioned equipment, depending on the model, makes threads, drills holes, bores, and also mills. Such equipment is used, among other things, for the manufacture of automobile parts.
- Woodworking. Using machines, they produce wood parts of any shape, which are subsequently used in the production of furniture, decorative finishing, and construction work.
- Jewelry making. Specialized CNC milling machines process small-sized workpieces made of precious metals.
- Hobbies and home production. Small milling machines are now installed in private workshops and even in garages. Such equipment can be used to produce details for hobby, souvenirs, and so on.
How to choose a CNC router
Selecting a milling machine is a complex task that requires experience and knowledge of technology. We recommend contacting qualified specialists or supplier consultants who will tell you more about the differences between various CNC milling machines.
There are several types of CNC milling machines – horizontal, vertical, 3D, as well as with 4 and 5 axes. Depending on the type of machine, the equipment performs certain tasks. Machines can be both universal and highly specialized.
The next parameter is the size of the desktop and equipment. There are several common types of machine tools, from mini-equipment and benchtop milling machines to large equipment and CNC machining centers. Large-sized machines are usually used at large-scale industrial facilities.
It is also worth paying attention to the type of router bed, spindle (optional with air or water cooling), the type of guides, as well as the type of motors that move the machine portal (stepper motor or servo drive).
Another important selection criterion is the control panel and software with which the operator programs the machine.
Optionally, the machines are equipped with cooling systems, dust and small particle collection systems, automatic cutter change systems, vacuum workpiece fixation systems, and so on.
How does a CNC router work?
First of all, the specialist creates a three-dimensional model of the workpiece using special software.
The operator then creates a program for the milling machine to produce the workpiece using a system of special codes.
The operator then equips the machine with the appropriate cutters and tools, as well as additional equipment if necessary.
At the next stage, the program is loaded onto the machine, and the workpiece is installed on the desktop.
At the final stage, the operator monitors the correct operation of the machine and the absence of errors during production.
Although the operator is not directly involved in the production process, programming and setting up the machine requires qualifications and experience.