Unlike the earlier days, when creating something out of your bare hands was difficult, today, it is as easy as a walk in the park with the right tools. When CNC machines entered the market, they stormed the whole manufacturing industry. They offer several multitasking benefits, which almost every production industry has adopted them. Today, developing a unique DIY project using CNC machines from companies such as Inventables is easy. Any creation can now come to life as precisely as you thought it would be. Although they are a great commercial staple, CNC machines quickly gain 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 to do is to decide which type of material you will use with the CNC machine. That determines the specific machine you will use. You can use metal, wood, plastic, acrylic, etc. The best thing about CNC machines is that they quickly adapt to new materials, so you can use them with a wide range of materials. For instance, you can use a CNC machine such as an 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, called computer numerical control. Programming the software includes three significant steps. Firstly, you draw a computer-aided model of the part, known as the 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 directly into the machine, others prefer 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 unreliable 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, it would help if you told the software what tools to use, the cut’s speed, and the 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 you have to rely on your external PC with hobby machines. The PC usually has a machine control program, so you upload the G-code into the program, and the machine starts working. However, 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 the machine moves, position your material carefully by holding it in place and start the program. Then, stand back and watch the machine execute 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.

Ricardo L. Dominguez

Tv geek. Professional twitter buff. Incurable zombie aficionado. Bacon fanatic. Internet expert. Alcohol specialist.Fixie owner, father of 3, ukulelist, Mad Men fan and Guest speaker. Working at the fulcrum of simplicity and programing to create great work for living breathing human beings. Concept is the foundation of everything else.