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    Time is of the essence when you have important projects to get done on tight deadlines. Meanwhile, today’s manufacturing industry is more competitive than ever, with clients looking for new ways to streamline production and improve machining efficiency. Because time is money, this is an important element when calculating costs.

    What are the 8 best ways to improve CNC machine efficiency?

    The prevalence of multi-axis tools, sophisticated machines, and high-tech software in CNC machining is a good thing. It means much shorter lead times, more accurate finished products, and plenty of opportunities to optimize operations at the shop. But there are at least 8 specific ways to maintain your machines between projects and neglecting to do so can have a tremendous effect on your bottom line.

    #1. Reduce the price of processing.

    Production costs are calculated using a complex equation that often focuses on the lifespan of a cutting tool. On average, however, cutting tools only account for about 3% of the total processing price of CNC machining. Thus, it’s more frugal to concentrate on reducing lead times and cutting the overall costs of running a machine.

    #2. Closely monitor cycle times.

    Keep the tool life, part quality, surface finish, and cycle times as your main priorities on any manufacturing project. Try to create specific and quantifiable indicators that can be easily inspected and accepted or rejected. Then, design processing plans that point directly at your targeted deadline and watch out for any deviations.

    #3. Use tool geometry to your advantage.

    Carefully choose CNC machining tools that feature the primary deflection angle. Use the tool’s helpful geometry to increase your feed rates or boost chip thickness and hasten the cutting rate to meet deadlines more efficiently.

    #4. Choose the right machining plan.

    Special processing may be required for certain projects, especially those completed for the automotive or aerospace industries – both of which call for very specific processes. Integral spiral milling and plunge milling, for example, can increase a facility’s production speeds by as much as four times.

    #5. Design an optimized tool path.

    Give the cutting system maximum rigidity to ensure optimal cuts and precision production, even on extremely complex geometries or large feed rate projects for massive orders. As always, double-check with the shop design and engineering teams before making any changes.

    #6. Coordinate machining materials with tools.

    One-stop machine shops can process a wide range of materials using sophisticated tools, machines, and software. But not all projects can be completed as originally designed because of conflicts with tooling or finishing certain materials. At the same time, well-equipped facilities may sometimes employ “universal” cutting tools to prevent further delays in manufacturing.

    #7. Pay attention to cutting temperatures.

    Study how temperatures change and interplay during CNC machining to determine the best processes more easily. Friction from cutting may cause surface heat, thereby changing the properties of certain materials. However, high heat may be necessary for some applications, so an understanding is crucial.

    #8. Identify and address any issues quickly.

    Don’t let minor problems become major issues lest you halt the entire project for something that could have been avoided. Use the shop’s technology to carefully analyze the process and monitor progress in real-time. If there’s ever something to troubleshoot, do so immediately to prevent unnecessary hiccups.

    Streamlined machine shops can handle large, complicated orders at record speeds without sacrificing quality because they’re ready, willing, and able to comply with strict industry standards. Thus, it’s never a good idea to send your projects to a facility that’s ill-equipped or unaware of these 8 things.

    How to increase productivity in a CNC machine shop

    Boosting the efficiency of your CNC machines and cutting tools is a great way to increase profits and decrease lead times. But all of that starts on the facility floor with machinists who know exactly what they’re doing. So, here are three more ways to improve productivity on site:

    #1. Use leaner manufacturing methods.

    Certain techniques require more time and resources to complete, yet the payoff can leave much to be desired. Take traditional prototyping vs rapid prototyping, for example. One may render a relatively precise representation of a part but may cost more in the long run because certain elements couldn’t be tailored. At the same time, rapid prototyping helps reduce production waste by rendering a more realistic part that’s easier to customize.

    NOTE: Manufacturing projects can be further improved by working with a team of talented, intuitive, and well-equipped CNC machinists.

    #2. Work with an established CNC machine shop.

    It’s always a good idea to work with CNC machine shops that are rapidly expanding to accommodate large industries. Facilities that frequently handle arms and ammunition, aerospace, automotive, or medical machining projects typically offer the most precise and cost-effective techniques. They’re also AS9100 and ISO9000 certified, with updated ITAR registrations too. Those extra steps help to ensure maximum efficiency regardless of the schedule.

    NOTE: Choose a one-stop machine shop to avoid unnecessary handling or shipping and receiving delays.

    #3. Employ better CAD/CAM software.

    Experts agree that economical machining requires no less than these five things:
    1. Project organization
    2. Simplified operations
    3. Well-trained machinists
    4. Updated machine and tools
    5. State-of-the-art software

    Streamlining your manufacturing work and cutting your production dollar means using the best CAD/CAM software available – ProShop ERP, for instance. It helps keep the team organized through instant communication and database management. Plus, it can often accommodate in-process adjustments to avoid unnecessary waste.

    NOTE: Keep all of the required documents for each project organized and ready in case they’re needed for quick reference.
    For more information on how to streamline your project or get more bang for your production buck, talk to an expert machinist at Pioneer Cuts. When you’re ready to start creating precision parts with a dedicated team of professionals, submit your data for a quick 6-hour quote.

    In summary

    Cutting the cost of CNC machining is one thing but finding ways to produce precision parts more efficiently is both economically and socially more responsible. With these eight techniques, machinists can promise increased productivity, decreased waste, and a boosted morale on the facility floor.

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