May 5 2016

CNC lathe Maintenance

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CNC lathe Maintenance

If you just use a tool over and over again without taking care of it you will find that it wears down very quickly. A CNC lathe is no different from any other tool in this matter. Performing regular maintenance and upkeep to your machine will improve your machines life. Additionally, parts of the machine will be less likely to break (saving you money that you would have to put out for repairs) and you will not suffer any downtime that could lead to decreased productivity. Certain maintenance measures should be taken on daily, quarterly, bi-yearly and yearly bases to keep your machine in working order.
Daily maintenance should be performed on any day where you use your CNC lathe. Start by checking the hydraulic pressure and fluid levels to be sure that they are both at the correct operating levels. Also check the chuck pressure to make sure that it is set correctly. Examine the lube levels of your machine and top them off if they are getting a little low. The cooling system you use on your CNC lathe machine should be checked to make sure that it is working right and is set up correctly for your next project. Clean any excess chips out of your chip collection system and grease any parts that need some extra grease to run smoothly. Wipe down your CNC lathe machine to get any excess materials that could interfere with its operation off before making sure that everything has been lubricated properly. After every 40 hours of operation or so (or on a weekly basis) you should also replace the filter on the CNC control cabinet to maximize the air flow.

Cnc Lathe machine

CNC lathe

Every three months (or after 500 hours of operation if you are using your machine a lot) the chain on your chip conveyor should receive some fresh grease and the filters on your coolant tank should be switched out for new, clean ones. After six months, or 1000 hours, clean the coolant tank to get any oil, sludge or other residue out of it. You will also want to take the chuck and jaws off of your CNC lathe machine and give them a thorough cleaning. Next you will want to drain your hydraulic tank and get some fresh oil in there. This is also a good time to switch out the suction filter and the line filter. Clean your CNC lathe machine’s radiator and check it to make sure that all of the fins are straight. Drain your lubrication unit and clean it out before refilling it with new lube. Cooling units should also be drained and refilled at this time. Check your CNC lathe machine’s leveling and, if necessary, readjust it to proper settings. Check if your way wipers have received any damage and clean or replace the ones that have too much wear.
After either a year or 2000 hours of use (whichever comes first), start by checking the headstock of your CNC lathe machine for taper. Your spindle should also be examined, for radial and end play. The chuck cylinder needs to be checked for run out, the tailstock should be examined for taper and you should look over turret parallelism and inclination. You will want to run a backlash program on your x- and z-axes to check backlash levels and make necessary adjustments. This is also the time to check the axis gibs on the x- and z-axes and readjust them if they are off.
Some of these tasks are things you can do yourself and some are things you will want a certified engineer to do. It can be a pain to have to pay an engineer to check over your CNC lathe machine but it would be a much bigger pain to have something on your CNC lathe machine break. You have to take care of your tools if you want them to last and a CNC lathe is a big enough of an investment that you certainly want it to last.


Mar 3 2016

Laser CNC Engraving Metal

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Laser CNC Engraving Metal

In the past #lasers and metals have not mixed very well. While a laser does produce high amounts of heat suitable for cutting or engraving it is still, at its core, light. Anyone who has ever walked through a full parking lot of shiny cars on a hot, sunny day without their sunglasses knows that metal reflects light very efficiently. Many individuals know that laser cutters traditionally do not work on metal and would not attempt any kind of metalworking project using a laser. However, there are multiple types of lasers and some do work well enough with metals for engraving projects.

CNC Laser Engraving Metal

CNC Laser metal cut

One of the first gas #laser invented was the CO2 laser and it is still one of the most common lasers used today. This type of lasers work on some metals but not all, as some metals reflect the laser beam too much for it to be effective on metal projects. One type of the metals that works well with a CO2 laser is anodized aluminum. Anodized aluminum comes in several different colors and you will observe different effects depending on what color the metal is. For example, black anodized aluminum turns white when engraving with a laser while red anodized aluminum turns light pink. You can intensify the color with a second pass and get a whiter sheen but you will usually not be able to completely remove the original color created by the initial cut. Anodized aluminum should be cut at low power, high speed setting in order to generate crisp, clean engravings. Using too much power can distort engravings and result in images that have been burned too much during the cutting process.

 CNC Laser Engraving Metal

CNC Laser cut

Painted brass is another metal that works well. Do not use unpainted brass with a CO2 laser; it will reflect the beam and you will likely get hurt. The laser will remove the coating from brass that has been painted, exposing the brass beneath for appealing visual effects. You can also use brass-coated steel. Like with painted brass, you will be removing paint to expose the brass beneath. Brass-coated steel just has a thin layer of brass over steel instead of being made from pure brass. The polished brass that you expose with your #laser is protected by the lacquer, preventing the brass from being oxidized and keeping it bright and shiny for many years. If you do not know whether your material is painted brass or brass-coated steel you can test it with a magnet. Magnets will stick to brass-coated steel but not to painted brass since solid brass does not have a sufficient magnetic field to attract and hold a magnet.
For other metals you can use an Yb: Fiber Laser, a fiber laser that uses the element ytterbium. Fiber lasers have several distinct advantages over more traditional lasers. The key component that makes them suitable for laser engraving is that the light used is already coupled into a flexible fiber, allowing it to be delivered to a movable focusing element easily. This is what makes it much more difficult for metal to reflect the beam, making this type of #laser safe to use with more types of metals. Fiber lasers also have a very high power output and can have active regions up to several kilometers in length. The fiber’s high surface area to volume ratio allows for continuous output at the kilowatt level, resulting in efficient cooling. Because fibers can be bent, unlike rod or gas lasers, they are usually very compact machines. The pulses that the lasers generate operate within nanoseconds, further making fiber lasers well-suited for metal engraving projects.


Jan 28 2016

CNC router tools to cut aluminum and how to choose them

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Some hobbyists may ask if a CNC router can cut aluminum since you most often see other users cutting wood or plastic. You can use your machine to cut aluminum if you know how to do it right. Aluminum (and other metals) are different to cut compared to wood or plastic. They have a smaller “sweet spot” for optimal cutting. If you leave the sweet spot your cutter will start breaking and wearing out faster and the surface finish will not be very good. Another thing to keep in mind is the “stickiness” factor (this applies to some other metals too). Aluminum wants to stick to your tool. It will do this to the point where it welds itself to your tool. When sticky bits of aluminum have clung to your cutting edges your tool is not going to have much more life in it. Even though it is challenging you can cut aluminum on almost any router. This article will give you a few tips to make sure you stay on track doing that job safe and proper.

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Jul 24 2015

CNC Frame making and woodcraft

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CNC Frame making and woodcraft

Creating a picture frame by hand is a grueling process. When you take the pieces of a picture frame and try to put them together into a single object the entire thing has to fit together perfectly or else it will not work. Getting those exact measurements cut just right is very difficult for human hands to do. Luckily, CNC machines are capable of precision far beyond that of what people can accomplish. But even though CNC machines are capable of such precision they are run by people, and people can still make the tiny mistakes that can throw a picture frame project completely out of whack. Still, CNC routers make it possible for anyone to make custom picture frames that can look exactly how they want. Continue reading