How to be a CNC Machining Expert?

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In recent years, CNC Machining plays such an important role in various industries, and more and more CNC Machining talents are in great demand. Today let’s talk about the necessary steps to achieve this goal.

Step # 1: You Must Be a Brilliant Craftsman

Different CNC machine tools can perform drilling, milling, boring, reaming, tapping, and other important processes. A computer language is used by a numerical control program that helps to consolidate these different processes. The technical knowledge requirements for a craftsman are quite high. Being a master in crafts provides a sound basis for programming. If you don’t understand the craftsmanship, then you can never be able to program.

As a matter of fact, at the start of your career as a mechanical cutting specialist, the early days will be difficult and rough. You will have to spend most of your time with laborers, dry lathes, grinders, and many other different tools and machines. Your university degree and the knowledge that you get, cannot meet the high practical demands of the advanced machining industry.

But once you get hands-on experience in the machining industry then you spend most of your time in your office. Here you will be editing complex crafts, estimating material consumption, and many other important organizational tasks.

As a beginner, you must focus on learning the working mechanism of different machine tools. One most important thing, you should try to learn from the master workers. Because what they can teach you, can’t be learnt from any book.

If want to be an expert in this field then you must learn and master the following technicalities and requirements.

  • Master the structure and process characteristics of drilling, milling, boring, reaming, tapping, grinding, and planning machines.
  • Familiarize yourself with the unique properties of different processed materials.
  • Must learn about the basic knowledge of tool theory.
  • Must know about your company’s process specifications, guidelines, and general requirements.
  • Familiarize yourself with the tool system used in the CNC industry. Must collect a certain amount of data on machine tools, and mechanical standards.
  • Master your skills in the selection and maintenance of coolant.
  • Must have a basic understanding of related types of work such as casting, electrical processing, heat treatment, etc.
  • Must be able to establish a good fixture foundation.
  • Master your assembly requirements and processed parts requirements.
  • Must be excellent in measurement technology.

Step # 2: You Must Have an Excellent Command on CNC Programming and Computer Software

This step is comparatively easier and it requires 1-2 months to be familiar with. Because there are only dozens of programming instructions, and luckily, various systems are similar to each other. Talking about the automatic programming software, well, that is more complicated and you must focus on, how to model it? But if you have a solid CAD foundation then it is not that difficult for you. Furthermore, while implementing manual programming, your analytical geometry skills will be greatly utilized here. The following points must be kept in mind during the application of CNC programming and computer software:

  • Your codes should be easy to understand, well-organized, and systematically written.
  • The fewer the instructions in a block, the much better it is to avoid complexity.
  • Your codes should be easily adjustable. When you are required high machining accuracy of the parts, then it is better not to amend the program. For instance, if your working tool is worn out, and you want to adjust it. Then go to the tool offset table and just change the length and radius.
  • You must write your codes in such a way that they execute the machining action with maximum accuracy and ensure maximum efficiency. While programming, the operating characteristics of the machine tool must be given higher attention. That is very helpful and beneficial in observation, inspection, measurement, safety points of view, and so on.




    Step # 3: You Must Be Capable of Operating CNC Machine Tools Effectively

    This step is quite complex and requires hard work to master. It requires 1-2 years of learning. At this stage, you will learn fixture installation, system operation mode, part datum alignment, toolsets, zero offset setting, tool length compensation setting, radius compensation, loading and unloading of the tool and tool holder, and the cutting edge of the tool, grinding. 

    Measurement of the parts (must know very well the use of vernier callipers, micrometre cards, dial indicators, inner diameter lever indicators, etc). If you want to master the operation of CNC machine tools then you must work hard in the workshop.

    Step # 4: You Must Have A Good Tooling and Fixture Foundation and Solid Grip on Measurement Technology

    To ensure maximum parts processing accuracy, the tooling, fixture, and measurement technology are as important as the accuracy of the machine tool. Therefore, the tooling, fixture, and measurement technology are listed separately. Your strong grip on these shows your skill level of craftsmanship.

    In the entire CNC processing system, machine tool accuracy is assured by the machine tool manufacturer. On the other hand, the tool vendor delivers cutting parameters. Fortunately, the general problem is not big. For specific parts, the tooling and fixture are specially designed by the technicians. Since the problem of parts deformation is random because most of the parts on CNC machine tools offer difficulty to some extent.

    The hassle faced during inspecting the problems caused by the fixture is that it is qualitative but hard to quantify. If you have no experience in fixture design and part clamping then it will be a lot worst for you to solve the problem. Then what you should do in that case? Well, you have to seek guidance from the senior technicians who can solve your problem within no time.

    As for as measurement technology is concerned, it is very important in CNC machining. It plays a vital role in parts accuracy. So, you should master the use of vernier calipers, micrometers, dial indicators, inner diameter lever meters, etc. proficiently. Occasionally during the parts processing, a three-coordinate measuring machine cannot be counted on. In this case, you will have to make measurements manually. Just imagine that you manufactured a part with incorrect measurements, then, who will trust you? No one. So, you must practice hard.

    Step # 5: You Must Familiarize Yourself with CNC Machine Tools and Their Maintenance

    The following steps must be taken care of to become a successful mechanical cutting specialist

    • You must be familiar with CNC electrical components and control principles. Your understanding must be that high that you can easily tell the name and function of each component in the electrical box. You must have a solid command of electrical schematic diagrams.  
    • You must learn the structure and transmission principle of the ball screw. You should know the factors having an impact on the accuracy of the machine tool.
    • You must learn the structure of the bearings at both ends of the machine tool screw and their influence on the accuracy of the machine tool.
    • You must understand the lubrication system of the machine tool (i.e., bearings, main shafts, gearboxes, etc.), and the distribution of lubrication points. 
    • You must understand the cooling system of the machine tool.
    • You must understand the main transmission structure of the machine tool and the specific data characteristics between the speed and torque of each machine tool.
    • You must understand the characteristics of the machine tool guide rail pair. You should recognize whether it is a linear rail or a sliding rail and its carrying capacity.
    • You must be able to eliminate common operation faults such as exceeding the limit, tool magazine, tool number error, etc.
    • You must be proficient in various precision indicators like static and dynamic and detection methods of machine tools.
    • You must be familiar with the tool magazine mechanism and the principle of tool change.

    For the above requirements to meet regarding CNC machine tools, you must require at least 3 years to practice.

    The following points are recommended concerning the machine tool maintenance:

    • You must check the starting load changes of each axis of the machine tool on regular basis. When you find any abnormality in the starting load changes, then you must stop the machine for inspection. Because the resistance of the movement pair or transmission pair has changed. If it is not dealt with timely then with time, the damage to the machine tool will be greater.
    • You must check lubricating oil consumption. If it is normal then there is no sign of worry. But if it is too much or too little then you should properly inspect for the problem.
    • You must frequently clean the air-conditioning filter and vent filter of the electric box.

    Step # 6: Work Professionally and Keep on Learning the Characteristics of CNC Machining

    • While processing some large parts, there is complex processing involved and also the conversion of three-dimensional coordinates in space is to be done. Here the processing trajectory plays an important role. If not calculated carefully then there will be more program modification during debugging. It will consequently increase the probability of error. Which means that you have to scrap a very large part. It will affect efficiency and processing accuracy.
    • You must spend an appropriate amount of time processing trajectory calculations. Because the part debugging process requires many persons to accomplish it. It includes operators, inspectors, fixture design, fixture assembly personnel, etc. 
    • When you face difficulties during debugging and processing then you have to keep calm, don’t panic, and be strong psychologically.
    • When the part that you are manufacturing does not produce the required results continuously, then you must conduct a comprehensive critical analysis to get better results. Don’t go into the blame game. Just try to find the problem and erase it.




      Cora Feng
      Cora Feng

      Project Manager working on CNC Machining since 2010

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