Posts Tagged: CNC Machines


How Has CNC Machining Changed the Manufacturing Industry?

Machine ShopComputer Numeric Control (CNC) machining has been around since the 1940s. These days, with the help of computer aid design (CAD), high-speed automation and advanced production capabilities, CNC machining is a fully-integrated manufacturing technology. Since its introduction nearly 80 years ago, CNC machining has become a critical part of technology development. Let’s look at the ways CNC machining has empowered the manufacturing industry since its inception.

Speed

Before the advent of CNC machining, mills, lathes, drills and routers were run by operators. They would read a drawing and determine the best way to create the necessary features on the parts. A complex part might need to be remounted and reoriented by hand, and engineers had to include orienting features to ensure these operations maintained critical dimensions. This could be time consuming for both design and manufacturing.

Now, 3D modeling CAD files are read directly by CNC machines and a computer can automatically plan machining operations. An engineering design can include dimensional dependencies to maintain critical dimensions. Furthermore, advanced automated CNCs have articulating tables and heads to reorient parts and tools without ever unmounting a part. Rather than manually controlling each step in the process, operators can simply program CNC machines to interpret CAD files.

As result of computer integration and automation, more complex components are made faster than ever.

Repeatability

In addition to making components faster, CNC machining has enabled greater precision and accuracy as well. Since parts are not remounted and operations are carried out by a high-precision machine, errors are less likely to occur. The accuracy of the first part is largely dependent on the accuracy of the CNC machine itself. The precision from part to part is largely dependent on how constantly each part is initially mounted in the machine.

Better accuracy and precision allow higher-quality components to be made with less waste.

Scalability

CNCs also have advantages for scalability over traditional machining. Some machines can complete more than one operation at a time. And, they can run almost continuously, 24 hours a day.

Faster, more repeatable continuous operations mean greater quantities of parts can be made in a shorter period of time.

Turning Ideas Into Products

Probably the greatest impact CNC machining has had on manufacturing is its ability to take and idea and turn it into a product quickly. This has made CNC machining ideal for prototyping and testing early in the design process. Engineers and designers can come up with a new product concept, mock it up in CAD and have machined prototypes within days. This makes it possible to modify concepts or try alternatives with little risk, allowing them to fine tune a design before releasing it for production.

More prototyping contributes to the production of robust, well-tested and innovative designs throughout the manufacturing industry.

Interested in learning more about how a CNC machine can benefit your unique operation? Give us a call or contact us online to speak with the team at CNC Masters today!


Benefits Of The CNC MAX Milling Machine

CNC MAXAt CNC Masters, we’re proud to produce some of the some of the best tabletop milling machines on the market. One of these tabletop machines, however, is a different breed from the rest.

The CNC MAX sets itself apart from the pack with its versatility and ease of operation.

The CNC MAX tabletop milling machine is the first mill of its kind to have true ball screw accuracy in not one or two, but all three axes. It is built durably and precisely, with a cast-iron body, sliding dovetail ways and tapered gibs on the square column. These features give the machine superior accuracy, repeatability and alignment.

One of the best attributes of the CNC MAX mill is that it offers the performance capabilities of larger CNC mills in a more compact package.  

Thanks to its flexibility and user-friendly design, this mill can be a great investment for manufacturing plants, machine shops, research institutions, high schools, universities and even small business owners who want to save money by machining their own components.

The CNC MAX mill is compatible with ordinary PCs running a Windows 8 or 10 64-bit operating system, and a convenient “teach mode” allows the machine to automatically write each line of a tool path as the operator manually jogs each axis with a mouse, keyboard or optional handheld keypad. As such, amateur machinists can easily mill simple parts on the CNC MAX without the need to learn specialized CAD programming languages.

More experienced operators, meanwhile, can enjoy many of the same features they’re accustomed to finding on larger, more expensive CNC mills.

The CNC MAX mill is proudly manufactured and assembled right here in America, combining both American-made and imported parts that allow us to offer competitive pricing while retaining a high degree of quality and durability. All of our milling machines come with a one-year hardware warranty against manufacturer defects, and they undergo a rigorous quality assurance and pre-shipping inspection upon purchase. Our USA-based customer support team is also available to answer any technical questions you might have about the CNC MAX mill for as long as you own the machine.

To learn more about the CNC MAX tabletop milling machine or any of the other products we offer at CNC Masters, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today!


Prolong the Life of Your CNC Machine With These Maintenance Tips

CNC TechnicianNo business owner likes losing production time or output due to machinery failures. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to help prolong the life of your CNC machine and keep your operation running smoothly.

Implement an Employee Check

The technicians who use these machines day in and day out typically know more about their quirks than anyone. These employees can be critical in identifying signs of mechanical trouble. Make sure the proper employees know what channels to proceed through should they notice any machine issues.

Keep Spare Parts on Hand

In the event of a mechanical failure, waiting for spare parts to come in the mail can set your production back quite a bit. By keeping a range of spare parts on hand—particularly those that are prone to failure—you can eliminate unnecessary down time and get your CNC machine back up and running as soon as possible.

Adhere to a Regular Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a routine schedule of maintenance will make it easier to spot potential issues before they cause full-blown breakdowns. This, in turn, can prevent production down time and increase your business’ productivity.

Keep Maintenance Records

This might seem like a no-brainer, but keeping a record of your equipment’s maintenance history can help you identify recurring problems and keep track of the money you spend on repairs. Having thorough maintenance records can also make it easier to diagnose mechanical issues in the future.

To learn more about how you can make the most of your CNC equipment, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today!


5 Tips for Finding the Right CNC Mill

CNC Milling toolThere are a lot of new and used CNC machines on the market, but some of them are no bargains. While it might not take much to fix up an old wreck that’s been milling for the last three decades, that “great deal” on the showroom floor could end up forcing you to do more repairs than milling. And that brand-spanking new machine? It’s a hefty investment, so you have to be careful with that option, too.

Generally, you should approach buying a used CNC mill with the same caution you’d have when buying a used car—kick the tires, take it for a spin and look under the hood. The same goes for a new one. If the sales rep tells you that it was gently used every Sunday by a little old lady from Pasadena, put a hand on your wallet and back away slowly. Before you lay out the cash, check out these tips for getting an affordable CNC mill that won’t let you down.

What size CNC machine will you need?

The answer to this question will depend on a couple of factors. First, you need to determine the amount of floor space you can allocate for the new machine and its gear. Next you need to determine the size of the components you’ll be producing, and how to store the raw materials. You may also need to make room for a vented hood, particulate mitigation and even a water-cooling system.

What materials are you machining?

If you’re machining mostly simple parts, you can get by with an older rebuilt or gently-used CNC machine. If your parts are more complex, however, or you need more axes to produce your parts, then you would probably be better off with a newer, more versatile machine.

What are your maintenance costs?

If you’re currently paying for frequent maintenance and repairs on the machine you have now, you may want to consider buying a newer machine. Just like a car, a CNC mill requires maintenance, but at some point it can become more cost-effective to invest in a new machine rather than try to keep an old machine on life support.

Is the manufacturer still in business?

Are replacement parts still readily available for your old CNC mill? If not, buying a newer but lightly-used machine could be your best bet. Custom-machining replacement parts for a discontinued model from a company that is no longer in business could end up costing you as much as the brand new machine you thought you couldn’t afford.

What are your productivity needs?

If business is booming and you want to use a CNC machine to speed up production, you would do well to look at new models. Newer machines are generally more capable than older models, so if time is of the essence, you will do better with a more up-to-date station.

Before you commit to a purchase, you might want to ask the seller if you can “test drive” the machine. If you’re not very experienced with CNC machines, bring an experienced CNC machinist with you to evaluate the machine’s performance and condition. Ending up with a lemon on the shop floor could cost you time, money and even customers. It’s worth taking your time to find the right machine that will save you cash and aggravation down the road.


CNC Milling Allowed Apple to Create the World’s Thinnest Laptop

MacBookA decade ago, Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air in a clever on-stage demonstration by removing the two-pound laptop from a flat manila envelope. At just .76 inches at its thickest point, it was the thinnest laptop ever created. The MacBook Air challenged preconceived notions about industrial design, and ushered in a whole new era of ultra-slim laptops that seem to defy the limits of their hardware.

Now, ten years after consumers first laid eyes on the MacBook Air, Apple is reportedly preparing to retire the laptop from its product lineup. That’s why we’d like to take a moment to highlight the contribution CNC milling made to the original design of the world’s thinnest laptop.

In 2008, Apple’s designers were working to develop new manufacturing techniques that could streamline the process of creating unibody aluminum products. At the time the company was using CNC machines to design product prototypes, but not to mass-produce its final products.

In an effort to make the MacBook Air a reality, Apple began investing heavily in its CNC infrastructure so that it could be scaled-up for mass production.

Since then, Apple has begun using CNC mills to mass-produce other products like iPhones and MacBook Pros as well. These sleek, seamless aluminum bodies have become a trademark of Apple’s design aesthetic, and it’s all thanks to the power and precision of CNC machining. In recent years, other laptop manufactures like Acer and Asus have even adopted Apple’s methodology to create their own super-skinny “Ultrabook” PCs.

The MacBook Air may be nearing the end of its lifespan, but the CNC processes that made the innovative laptop possible are still having a profound effect on today’s consumer electronics.


Essential Features to Expect From a CNC Desktop Lathe

Essential Features to Expect from a CNC Desktop LatheThe CNC desktop lathe is the natural extension of larger, freestanding CNC machines. Despite its size, a desktop lathe can still perform many of the same functions that larger units can, albeit at a smaller scale. These machines are also usually designed with powerful control technology built in, and they typically feature the same components used in bigger machines.

Although desktop lathes are smaller, they must be as durable as a full-scale machine.

All of the components of a desktop lathe must be heavy-duty, and its machine construction—from the wax instruments to the steel parts—must be very hard-wearing. Like its larger counterparts, a desktop lathe must support and display CAM files and converted DXF files.

With a CNC desktop lathe, you can learn and apply the same CNC commands that are used in big industrial CNC machines. These smaller machines are often easier to operate and install, however, due to the fact that they are designed specifically for desktop manufacturing approaches.

Plus, the desktop machines from CNC Masters come with complete technical support services as well.

If you’ve thought about investing in a CNC lathe in the past, but lack the room or resources for a large freestanding unit, a desktop model is a great option to consider. At CNC Masters, we can work with you to help you find a machine that suits your unique needs. We offer a diverse selection of CNC lathes that can be used for a variety of applications. Give us a call today or contact us online to learn more!


Using a CNC Table Top Lathe

Using a CNC Table Top LatheA CNC table top lathe is practically identical larger CNC machines, only on a smaller scale. Basically, the table top versions of these lathes were specifically designed for turning parts six inches in diameter or less. In many cases, a small tabletop lathe is actually more versatile than larger alternatives thanks to its powerful threading package.

A table top machine can be used in a wide variety of applications.

Table top CNC lathes are ideal for everything from school shops to commercial production floors. By using the powerful and intuitive Master MX software that comes bundled with our table top lathes, these machines become very easy to use for an extensive range of tooling purposes. Just like larger lathes, our CNC table top lathes have powerful motors and drivers that can cut steel, brass and other materials.

A table top lathe can be used for rapid prototyping, light-medium duty production, mold making, woodworking and lab work. It can also be used by hobbyists with the help of CAD software to import and replicate simple designs. Whether you need a great teaching tool or a powerful machine for producing industrial-grade components, a CNC table top lathe is well-suited for all these applications and more.

At CNC Masters, we can help you find the right CNC machine for your unique needs. We can also provide you with a demo of our CNC software to help you get a feel for its functionality and user interface. To learn more about table top lathes or any of the other products we offer at CNC Masters, give us a call or contact us online today.


Butterfly Joints Great DIY Project for CNC Machine

Butterfly Joints Great DIY Project for CNC MachineA butterfly joint, also known as a “butterfly key,” is typically used to hold two or more pieces of wood together. They are also used to hold one board that has slowly started to split into two boards together, reinforcing the original board. Essentially, butterfly joints stabilize cracked wood.

For some people, butterfly joints are used as a piece of home décor, often placed on door frames, wooden tables, or otherwise as a decorative element of the piece.

If you own a CNC machine, you can produce joints, and many other projects, from the comfort of your own home or your own workshop.

Luckily, CNC machines can cut a variety of materials, which includes aluminum, brass, steel, wood, and mire making it easy for them to produce butterfly joints. In fact, certain CNC machines can produce dozen of butterfly joints in a matter of minutes.

On Woodworking Network, they used a scrap piece melamine as a template, cutting several outlines of butterfly joints. They created different columns of butterfly joints, allowing them to make two different sizes, producing many butterfly joints at once using their CNC machine.

Keep in mind that the thicker the material is that you need to insert the butterfly joint into, the thicker the joint itself should be.

Many people often believe that CNC machines are used for major projects, and although they often are, they can also create small projects as well that can help improve your bigger projects. For instance, butterfly joints are a small project but they can help reinforce your bigger projects, such as tables, chairs, stools, and so forth.

Looking to purchase a new CNC machine? Contact CNC Masters.


Highlighting Several of Our Favorite CNC Machines

CNC Masters recently gained a few new machines that are attention worthy. We wanted to use this post an opportunity to showcase some of their strengths.  Max CNC Mill

Max CNC Mill

Our new CNC MAX is specifically designed for the machinist considering the CNC Baron Mill that needs higher spindle speed and longer Y axis travel. The value and compact nature of the CNC Baron Mill are enhanced with the added features on the CNC MAX. The CNC MAX Milling Machine is turn-key, easy to learn, and even easier to operate. This machine also has the durable cast iron body and is designed for more demanding users. It provides more advanced features that emphasize the cutting precision and the ease of use.

CNC Supra Mill CNC Supra Mill

The SUPRA CNC Mill offers Turn-Key Operation for any beginner or experienced machinist who needs a user-friendly, easy-to-use, machine and that needs to cut the parts the same day the unit arrives. This CNC Vertical Knee Mill provides the strength and durability of a manually driven Bridgeport-type vertical knee mill. The ingenuity of this machine delivers intricate and detailed parts through automation technology while giving the operator the option to manually machine simple parts through the use of the axis’ hand wheel. The machine also comes with the software you need to your milling needs without requiring extra software and has a one year warranty.

CNC Baron

CNC Baron Milling MachineOur CNC Baron has been added into our line of CNC milling machines. This machine is designed for the machinist who needs both efficient and compact equipment at an excellent value. It is turn-key, easy to learn, and easy to operate. It has a durable cast iron body without being the size of a larger machine. The small frame is perfect for large and small manufacturing plants, machine shops, and other institutions that require the mass production of a single part. The CNC Baron Milling Machine comes with a one year warranty and we also offer product support for the CNC Baron Mill and its operational software as long as you or your company owns the CNC machine.

CNC JR MillCNC Jr. Table Top Mill

If something essential is missing from your garage or workstation, the CNC JR Mill might be it. Whether you are a hobbyist or a businessman with a small to medium-sized enterprise in need of machine parts, this machine can likely meet your needs. This machine is as powerful as the full sized model but is a smaller size milling machine that comes pre-built and easily hooks up to your computer. The software is easy to use and will help you get projects done faster. This machine comes with a one year warranty.

CNC 1440 LATHE

The 1440 CNC Lathe has the ability to revert to manual control quickly and efficiently, eliminating the need to write a CNC CNC 1440 Turning Center program for short runs. At the same time, its advanced CNC capabilities transform complex turning applications into simple designs that can be programmed and executed accurately many times over on production runs.

For more information on these products, visit CNC Masters.


If You Own a CNC Machine, Forget Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping is something that you either love to do or really dislike doing all together. For many of us, holiday shopping is stressful. It comes with a lot of pressure that we would prefer to avoid if possible.

However, for those of us that own CNC machines, we can do our holiday shopping from the comfort of our machine.

In recent years, the concept of DIY has really taken off. DIY is an abbreviation for “do it yourself.” Many people are starting to create and craft the perfect gift rather than shop for hours and return home empty-handed. People that own CNC machines can create DIY gifts that will blow any store purchased gift out of the water. People will love knowing that it was created especially for them and it will give the gift significant sentimental value.

We recently came across a video of someone that made holiday gifts for their whole family using their CNC machine.

The Youtube user created 13 customized wooden breakfast plates for each member of their family in under ten minutes. They didn’t have to face any malls, boutiques, or department stores. They just used their CNC machine resulting in a thoughtful and handmade gift.

Many people have also been creating snowflakes using their CNC machine, for both decorations and holiday gifts.

Using a thick white plastic, they were able to cut out multiple snowflakes using their CNC router. The plastic was a quarter-inch thick and it only took the CNC machine two passes to cut through, resulting in a flawless snowflake.

To create the shape of the snowflake they used Snowflake 2.0, which is a special application that allows you to draw and design snowflakes and save them in a PDF format. If you search the internet, there are plenty of programs that will generate snowflakes and allow you to custom design them.

Other homemade CNC machine gifts that have been popular over the years include jewelry boxes, coasters, wooden signs, ornaments, and even picture frames.

Have you ever used your CNC machine to create holiday gifts for your loved ones? We would love to hear about it.

We believe the best holiday gift you can give is a CNC Machine from CNC Masters but creating gifts using your CNC machine is a pretty incredible alternative.