How Does CNC Machining Work?

How Does CNC Machining Work?

June 28, 2018

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what CNC machining is. But what processes are associated with the practice of CNC machining in Louviers, CO?

Here’s some information about the challenges you must overcome to transform a digital model into a milled masterpiece by working with an experienced and qualified CNC machine shop.

CNC machine movements

CNC machines can move across several different axes. These movements can take either rotary or linear directions, but many machines will offer some flexibility in that they move in both ways. Cutout machines like waterjets or lasers usually only have two linear axes—an X and a Y axis. Milling machines will often have three axes, and will have more rotary axes as well.

For example, there’s a five-axis milling machine, with three linear axes and two rotary axes, which allows the cutter to work on a full 180-degree hemisphere, and occasionally an even larger area than that. There are also five-axis lasers, or robot arms that have more than five axes.

There are some limitations with the capabilities of CNC machines, especially with regard to their drive and control systems. Most CNC controllers, for example, are only programmed to understand straight-line movements and circular arcs. This means that in many machines, these arcs have a lot of restrictions.

To create arc movements or linear movements that are developed at an angle to the main axes, two or more of the axes must move in synchronization. The linear and rotary axes can do this simultaneously. The more axes in the machine, the harder this task becomes.

In addition, the speed with which the machine controller collects and processes data, transmits resulting commands to the drive system and monitors the overall speed of the machine is crucial. The older or cheaper the machine, the less capable it is likely to be in handling sophisticated tasks and movements.

Interpreting data

Another issue you must address with your CNC machining is how you’ll configure your files and CAM programming so your CNC machine works smoothly while making your parts. Most CNC controls only understand lines and arcs, meaning any form that cannot be described with lines or arcs must be converted into something you can use. For example, splines involve curves that are neither lines nor arcs, as do three-dimensional surfaces. You might need to convert these formats into lines or arcs to be able to machine the parts.

With splines, you can break them into smaller series of line segments, tangent arcs or combinations of the two. You can also convert the spline into a polyline. The more segments you use in the process, the smoother the approximation.

To learn more about how CNC machining in Louviers, CO works and the various types of challenges you’ll need to overcome when working on your specific project, we encourage you to contact the expert team at Focused on Machining. We’ve been in the business for over a decade, and we look forward to answering any questions you have for our technicians!

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