Unlike the earlier days, when creating something out of your bare hands was a difficult task to undertake, today, it is as easy as a walk in the park with the right tools. When CNC machines entered the market, they took the whole manufacturing industry by a storm.They offer several multitasking benefits, which has seen almost every production industry adopt them. Today, it is easy to develop a unique DIY project using CNC machines from companies such as Inventables. Any creation can now come to life as precisely as you thought it would be. Although they are a great commercial staple, CNC machines are quickly gaining momentum in the hobby market, and to work with one, you need proper training. Here is how to get started with CNC machines.
Decide what materials you are using.
The first thing is to decide which type of material you will be using with the CNC machine. That determines the specific machine you will use. Materials you can use include metal, wood, plastic, acrylic, etc. The best thing with CNC machines is that they quickly adapt to the new material so that you can use them with a wide range of materials. For instance, you can use a CNC machine such as x-carve to carve out parts on wood. Milling machines come in handy for creating pieces out of metal.
Understand the software
CNC machines use computer software or programming to control their tools, which is why they are called Computer Numerical Control. Programming the software includes three significant steps. Firstly, you draw a computer-aided model of the part, which is known as CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program. Secondly, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) transforms the coding into a programming language known as G-code. Thirdly, the machine tools read the code and execute the instructions creating the desired part. While some engineers write the G-code direct into the machine, others prefer to use the CAM program for translation.
Create the CAD drawing
Most software shops sell CAD drawings, but you can also access free online versions. A free program is not reliable but helps you practice before settling on a more advanced package. After getting the CAD software, draw the part you wish to create and rely on the gridlines for accurate measurements.
Transfer it to a CAM program
When you are satisfied with the drawing, transfer it to a CAM program. Here you have to tell the software what tools to use, the cut’s speed, and level. Once you finish putting all that information, the CAM program automatically converts the data into G-codes for your machine to read and process.
Transfer the G-code
Most commercial CNC machines naturally facilitate direct transfer of the G-code into the machine, but with hobby machines, you have to rely on your external PC. The PC usually has a machine control program, so you upload the G-code into the program, and the machine starts working. However, if you want to type G-code directly into the machine, you must have your CNC machine’s G-code reference.
Create the final part
When you ensure that the machine is moving, position your material carefully by holding it in place and start the program. Then stand back and watch the machine executes the process. CNC machines work like robots and require very minimal human intervention. The final product or part will be more accurate and precise than if you had created it by hand. CNC machines save you time and result in high-quality parts.