CNC manufacturing facilities use high-tech tools, advanced software, and heavy-duty machines to fabricate parts based on intricate designs. Yet, most of that involves being able to cut and shape materials into various forms. So, any machine shop that can’t handle cutting isn’t worthy of the title.
Still, even the best-equipped facilities often run into problems on the cutting floor. With so many different factors in play, it truly takes an all-star to avoid them. So, what is the primary purpose of a CNC cutting machine and how can machinists eliminate the barriers that hold them back? In this article, we’ll discuss how to troubleshoot the 5 most common mistakes before they cost you big time.
What is the primary purpose of a CNC cutting machine?
Cutting machines are used every day in CNC machine shops. Their speed and efficiency are what keep a facility running smoothly, so enhancing the performance is one of the smartest things any manufacturing team can do. In fact, inefficient cutting rigs can significantly reduce the quality of a finished project and are known to drastically increase projects costs if not corrected.
It’s crucial to get your cuts right, especially when you’re machining for a major industry that adheres to strict manufacturing standards (i.e. automotive, aerospace, medical, etc.). Doing so is sure to improve the quality of your prototypes and finished products, and that’s because precision cuts can save your team time on the following steps. It’s essentially the foundation of the CNC machining process. After all, small mistakes here can spell tremendous disaster later on.
DID YOU KNOW: The prototype/sample analysis process almost always begins with cutting and sectioning for inspection.
How do you improve the efficiency of cutting machines at a CNC shop?
So, use these five tips to enhance your cutting prowess, maintain a repeatable pattern, and increase the speed of your feed:
#1. Remove burrs to increase prep speeds.
Burrs are raised edges or tiny chunks of material that stay begin after a workpiece has been cut. They all need to be removed before the sample analysis is completed. That can add time to the schedule for grinding and polishing, so try to avoid it at all costs. Here’s how:
a. Put a clamp on both sides. One-sided clamping can create unwanted BUE when the materials separate.
b. Reduce your feed speeds a bit. Use an automated machine that has a cut-off feature to customize your approach.
#2. Avoid thermal damage.
Thermal damage burns the workpiece’s surface, and it’s most commonly caused by sectioning the material incorrectly. This mistake leaves behind a noticeable flaw because it transforms the microstructure of the material. The discoloration must then be removed with more grinding and polishing before analysis can begin. So, avoid it like this:
a. Use the right cut-off wheel. This helps to reduce the need for plane grinding and may even help produce more parts faster (and for less money).
b. Make it as automatic as possible. Burrs and thermal damage are often the results of high feed speeds, but auto-cut-off machines usually come with more streamlined settings.
c. Don’t forget about the cooling liquid. Keep your workpiece cool at all times to prevent damages, mistakes, and costly repairs to the material and cutting tools.
#3. Stop cracks in brittle materials and delicate coatings.
Products with layers and/or brittle properties generally crack, which ultimately means the entire thing must be redone. That adds extra time to the cutting process and may even increase the cost of your machining project overall. So, use these tips to avoid all that:
a. Adjust your cutting technique. Remember, the base material will become the support when sectioning a coated workpiece. So, always cut into the coated side first.
b. Give your material some support. It not only helps prevent cracking but also allows more of the coating to fill pores and/or openings in the material.
#4. Prevent pinching by protecting your cut-off wheel.
Internal stress can build up when cutting hardened steel workpieces, especially on longitudinal axes. At that point, the workpiece starts pinching the cut-off wheel causing the material to stick, crack, or break. If it gets too bad, the workpiece will become completely deformed. So, here’s how to stop that from happening:
a. Use clamping tools that reduce pinching. After all, pinch-reduction tools help stop material deformation while also protecting your cut-off wheel.
b. Engage support blocks for larger pieces. Set them up to help keep your workpieces sectioned properly and eliminate pesky overturning.
#5. Clamp and cut irregular shapes with precision.
Irregularly shaped workpieces can be difficult to cut and machine, which further slows the process and adds costs to the project. If the materials aren’t held tight enough, they’ll move while they’re being cut and force the machinist to redo it again. Fortunately, there are at least two different ways to prevent that:
a. Mount the part in resin. This makes it much easier to clamp down with standard tools and keeps irregularly shaped workpieces in the proper position.
b. Create something custom for the project. And if you frequently cut similar workpieces, you can use what you’ve made as a rough template to improve productivity.
When it comes to CNC machining, the size of the project is not what matters most. Any legitimate facility will admit that it’s all about the quality of the finished product. Meanwhile, no client wants to pay more than they have to, and no machinist wants to work harder than is needed. So, by enhancing the efficiency of cutting machines, tools, and techniques, the entire team gets to reap the benefit.
Streamline your CNC cutting projects with us
Ready to stop getting nickel and dimed out of your manufacturing money? Pioneer Cuts provides clean, smooth, and streamlined processing regardless of your project’s size or your preferred material. Team members can also suggest easy ways to cut costs and increase production speeds during processing, and PC specialists are always on standby to provide quick, accurate, 6-hour project quotes online. For more information, reach out to a Pioneer Cuts expert to talk to a customer service agent, sales representative, or project manager.