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High Speed CNC Machining

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Computer numerical control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process that utilizes computers to oversee and control various machine tools, including lathes, routers, and mills. The process is used all around the world, particularly in the metalworking sector. Companies that utilize dies or molds in their manufacturing process are particularly affected by CNC machining, and it’s an ever-evolving industry with the potential for incredible growth.

One of the ways in which the CNC machining sector is seeing advancement and the potential for even further progress is its high-speed offerings. As with so many things in life, CNC machining can take some time to complete – and time is a precious resource of which people rarely have enough. That means that the need for increased efficiency and productivity from CNC machining is a top priority for many companies. In order to help meet this need, the area of high-speed CNC machining products was born.

Do you need more performance from your CNC machining center? The good news is that you can potentially upgrade your center without investing in new machines or expensive accessories. That’s because with CNC machining, the important thing is how you cut rather than with what you are cutting. Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to help increase the efficiency of your current CNC machining center using baby steps as opposed to an immediate, full-blown embrace of new machinery – an approach that can often be rather expensive.

Get Started

For many corporations, the question about high-speed machining is not whether or not it should be utilized, but rather how they should go about implementing the new techniques. Running headfirst into the investment of expensive equipment can be a mistake, and keep in mind that you’ll also need to try out different machining strategies in order to find one that best suits your needs. All of this takes time and money that you might not have or be willing to spend right away. If that is the case, then consider trying out high-speed CNC machining in an incremental approach.

Did You Know?

Different aluminum alloys offer various benefits during machining.  Harder alloys like Alumold, Hokotol, and 7075 are great alloys for machining due to their harder alloy properties, but alloys like Duramold 2, Duramold 5, M1, M5, ATP-5, and K100S can offer benefits such as greater dimensional stability and larger available sizes.

One of the things you can do with existing equipment is experiment with cutting techniques. Both high speed and “regular” CNC machining utilize essentially the same processes and components. The only difference is in how these components and processes are used – namely, a higher speed process is created by using multiple quick, shallow cuts rather than only a few heavy, deep cuts that take longer to complete. It might seem a bit obvious, but try increasing your speed parameters a bit until you see the results you’re looking for.

Spindles

Another option to consider is the use of auxiliary spindles. If you find that your current machine speed is already pushing the spindle’s limits, auxiliary spindles can provide different configurations needed to help speed up your process. You can often install these spindles onto existing machinery, which negates the need to purchase new equipment (beyond the auxiliary spindle, of course). Yet another potential solution is to use a spindle with a fixed center line. These can also often be used in conjunction with existing machinery and only require a few adjustments to work well.

Finally, you might consider mounting an independent spindle on your existing machinery. An independently mounted spindle can help use smaller tools in order to speed up the cutting process, allowing the main spindle to handle the larger tools. Trying out different spindle configurations can be a great option when it comes to easing your way into high speed CNC machining. You can upgrade a number of your machines like this to give you a better idea about the potential benefits that high-speed use might have for you.

Improve Programming Techniques

Various programming techniques that can help to greatly condense data might be another route to consider. These processes help the CNC process smaller blocks of information more quickly than other techniques, which in turn might help salvage some of your older models for use with high-speed machining.

Consider Making the Investment

With that said, some people will want to know why investing in new machinery and taking the time to develop an updated milling strategy is a good idea. There are a number of reasons why you might decide to go this route.

Let’s consider the case of an auto shop using high-speed CNC machining products. In this instance, the advantage of high-speed CNC milling is the production of full-scale models that don’t need additional smoothing before the paint job commences. This saves both time and money, and also produces a product that is uniformly smooth. This brings us to one of the main reasons why using an existing milling strategy is not quite as effective as investing in a new one with corresponding equipment. This is because the manual intervention required when attempting to salvage an outdated strategy using existing equipment in the aforementioned auto shop is never going to be quite as accurate as the performance seen in digital product models. The models in the latter instance must be hand-polished, a process that has the potential to produce less-uniformly smooth results. Additionally, the potential margin for error is increased with every treatment repetition.

The digital advantages of newer high-speed CNC machining products is nothing to sneeze at, in other words, and they should be taken into consideration when selecting the upgrade technique that is right for your needs. If precision is an absolute must, then you should consider making the investment in better machines for your high-speed CNC machining needs.

The world of high-speed CNC machining is an exciting one. I hope you’ve learned a little bit about the process and are ready to give it a try in your own shop!

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