In order to successfully machine parts in any type of CNC, or computer numerical control machine, you must train with an experienced machinist and simply start from the beginning. By learning the basics and picking the brain of an experienced machinist, you can learn the basics of CNC programming as it relates to each type of CNC machine you may use. The basic principles are very similar amongst types of machines, so once you have a good understanding of the concepts, training will come in the form of hands-on work with the machine and the programming process.
- Skill level:
Learn the coordinate planes that will be used for programming a CNC machine, whether a lathe, router or mill. The basic CNC mill has three axises; X, Y and Z. X is left-right movement, Y front to back and Z involves the movement of the spindle head up and down. Once you are familiar with theses axises, you can begin to understand dimensional programming.
Analyse the various tools that will be used in a CNC program. Learning each tool and its function will help you better understand how to program an operation and your limitations based on the tooling you have at hand. There are various types of tools and many can be used on multiple types of machines. Drills, end mills and indexable cutters will be the most commonly used in your programs, so get to know their speeds and feeds relative to various types of materials.
Learn G code to be able to program any type of machine. G codes are specific codes used in conjunction with the letter G to move the spindle and cutting tool to a certain spot on the coordinate plane to begin the machining operation. Drilling will involve one particular point whereas general cutting will have points that indicate where to begin and end cutting.
Learn the various M codes that are used in the program for miscellaneous commands. M codes often control the coolant or air spray, various stops that may be needed to turn parts or various dwell commands, which may allow you to take the time to blow chips off the piece before the next operation. M codes are crucial to any type of CNC machine program.
Create small programs using G code for a more experienced machinist to proof before attempting to execute them. Create rudimentary programs on your own to input into the control and run on scrap metal. As you become more proficient in CNC programming, you will be able to spot errors quickly and make the corrections needed.
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