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Efficiently Tooling Up Your CNC Machine

Whether live tool turning, five axis machining or C-Axis turning there are basic steps that should be taken when tooling up your machine.  The machine tool builder may offer some terrific recommendations about what tooling, workholding or fixturing to use for your applications.  But it is always best to go to the specialists for advice too.  Get involved with the manufacturers of tooling and workholding to be sure you have the best solution for the jobs you do.

Don’t go for the least expensive alternatives.  You’ve invested a lot of money in the machine, and though the cutting tools may be ‘consumable’, if you’re burning through them you’re wasting material and tools.  Consider basics, such as reducing ‘chatter’ by focusing on the rigidity and stability of the tool.  For instance:

  • Use a larger end mill
  • Try stub length end mills
  • Reduce the radial depth of the cut
  • Adjust spindle speed

But don’t just consider what’s on the spindle, also focus on what is under it.  When it comes to selecting the best workholding and fixtures, inexpensive or even middle-of-the road will not save money.  Quick change versatility will.

Plus, here are 3 additional considerations that can help you save money when tooling up your machine:

Make sure your engineering and manufacturing people are working together from concept to the finished part.

Manufacturing engineers plan, design, set-up and optimize the manufacturing process.  They are responsible for designing efficiency, maintaining costs, ensuring throughput and building safety controls into the process.  They are responsible for:

  • Providing operators with a detailed set of textual and illustrated work instructions.
  • Enabling data capture of both the parts and process, and allow the operator to see the feedback in real-time.
  • Eliminating or at least reducing the need to reenter data.
  • Capturing production data to manage labor productivity.
  • Improving data accuracy by validating at the source.

Engineers must ensure yield by providing organized instructions and gain insight from the operator(s) so the process is validated by all parties.  This teamwork will improve shop efficiency by providing bi-directional application between engineering and manufacturing.

It’s imperative for engineers and machinist to work closely and maintain a high level of respect for each other’s contribution to the company’s productivity, quality and a strong return on investment.

Have a Through Preventive Maintenance Plan

Using the machine manufacturer’s guidelines be sure to have a thorough preventative maintenance plan in place, so you aren’t doing too much ‘corrective’ maintenance.

Preventative maintenance (PM) is a crucial function to maintaining the service life of equipment and reducing costs associated with unplanned equipment shutdown.  Ignoring a PM plan can cause catastrophic failure in CNC machine operations that may not be detected until it’s too late.   Here’s an 8 Point Check List for Daily CNC Machine Preventative Maintenance:

  1. Make sure hydraulic pressure is at 653 psi (4.5 MPa)
  2. Hydraulic fluids should be at the correct operating level
  3. Clean the chuck body and slideway with an air gun, be sure the chuck is adequately lubricated and make sure the pressure for the chuck is set for the particular operation
  4. Way Lube is a premium-formulated lubricant for machine tool slides and ways.  Make sure it is at the correct operating level, and replace if needed to ensure the necessary slip-stick protection for a smooth and consistent movement along the surface finish.
  5. For inline cooling systems the unit amount should be at the recommended level.
  6. Be sure the chip pan is clean and adequately greased.
  7. Always keep the door window and the light clean to provide a clear view of the operation.
  8. Clean and adequately lubricate stainless steel way covers with hydraulic oil for smooth movement.

Visit Gosiger for more on weekly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual CNC machine preventative maintenance.

Selecting the Workholding Systems – What’s under the spindlesetup

When considering the workholding options it is critical to compare systems that best fit your machine capacity, budget, application and accuracy. Workholding Specialists can be an asset in terms of providing guidance from developing custom fixturing systems to suggesting simple manual clamping components.   Many Machine Tool suppliers offer Tooling Certificates when purchasing the Machine Tool to make workholding considerations before the machine hits your shop floor.    Jergens Workholding Solutions offers tooling certificates with select Machine Tool builders to accomplish tooling up CNC Machines with workholding that best fits your application.  Jergens Application Engineers can assist in determining the best Quick Change systems that will offer the most flexibility and greatest productivity to your shop.  These innovative workholding products are unsurpassed when maximizing the benefits of 5-axis machining and provide more uptime than other manufacturers ‘me-too’ products.   Jergens provides “one-stop shopping” when it comes to all of your fixturing and workholding needs.

If you have already financed your machine and are beginning to consider the workholding system, Jergens can still assist with custom and standard products to get you in the best position for quick changeover and efficient operations.

Many factors contribute to producing quality product and controlling your costs.  Some of the most important factors are system design, installation, maintenance and workholding selection to properly tool up your CNC machine for each job.  Your machine investment drives the success of the business.  How you tool up your machine will determine the return on that investment and the profits to your bottom line.

Jergens Workholding Solutions can be your source before, during and after your CNC Machine purchase.   Let us help you see the fixuring options that exist to get to the next level in profitable machining.

Click here to contact Jergens for a Free Workholding Analysis:

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