Sudhir S. Shinde
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In Industry it is not efficient or profitable to make everyday products by hand. On a CNC machine it is possible to make hundreds or even thousands of the same items in a day. First a design is drawn using design software, and then it is processed by the computer and manufactured using the CNC machine. This is a small CNC machine and can be used to machine woods, plastics and aluminum. In industry, CNC machines can be extremely large.
MEANING OF ‘CNC’
CNC means Computer Numerical Control. This means a computer converts the design into numbers which the computer uses to control the cutting and shaping of the material.
USE OF TYPICAL CNC MACHINE
1. The design is loaded into the computer which is attached to the CNC machine. The computer changes the design into a special code (numerical) that controls the way the CNC cuts and shapes the material.
2. The material to be shaped is taped on to a block with double sided tape. This must be done carefully so that it does not come off the block during machining.
3. The block is then placed in the vice, inside the CNC. It must be tightened up carefully. If it is not secure when the machine starts to cut the material it can come away from the vice. When the machine starts working, the vice moves up, down, right and left according to the design
4. The guard is placed in position. It protects the machine operator in case the material is pulled out of the vice by the power of the cutter. For safety reasons, if the guard is not in position the motor will not start.
5. The CNC is turned on and the shape is cut from the material. When the cutter has stopped the shaped material can be removed from the vice.
PARTS OF CNC MACHINE
VICE: This holds the material to be cut or shaped. Material must be held securely otherwise it may 'fly' out of the vice when the CNC begins to machine. Normally the vice will be like a clamp that holds the material in the correct position.
GUARD: The guard protects the person using the CNC. When the CNC is machining the material small pieces can be 'shoot' off the material at high speed. This could be dangerous if a piece hit the person operating the machine. The guard completely encloses the dangerous areas of the CNC.
CHUCK: This holds the material that is to be shaped. The material must be placed in it very carefully so that when the CNC is working the material is not thrown out at high speed.
MOTOR: The motor is enclosed inside the machine. This is the part that rotates the chuck at high speed.
LATHE BED: The base of the machine. Usually a CNC is bolted down so that it cannot move through the vibration of the machine when it is working.
CUTTING TOOL: This is usually made from high quality steel and it is the part that actually cuts the material to be shaped.
CNC MACHINE - INPUT, PROCESS, OUTPUT
A CNC production facility needs three pieces of equipment:
The computer is used to draw the design. However, the design is only a picture and the CNC machine cannot use this to manufacture the product. The computer software must also convert the drawing into numbers (coordinates) that the CNC machine can use when it starts to cut and shape the material.
A computer cannot be directly connected to a CNC machine. The computer is connected to an interface. This converts the signals from the computer to a form that the CNC machine understands. The signals are in the form of digital signals when they are sent to the CNC machine.
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machine:
The signals from the interface control the motors on the CNC machine. The signals determine the way the vice moves. The vice moves in three directions X, Y and Z. (Horizontally, vertically and depth). The signals also control the speed of the cutting tool.