A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Safely and Properly Operate CNC Machines

06 January 2022

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is the process by which a computer converts the design produced by Computer-Aided Design software (CAD) into numbers. The numbers can be the coordinates of a graph, and they control the movement of the cutter. In this way, the computer controls the cutting and shaping of the material.

CNC operators are responsible for any CNC machine crash when they are in operation. Crashes occur on the shop floor and are often catastrophic and costly. Accidents are usually due to the lack of skilled CNC Operators or well-trained CNC Operators within the manufacturing industry. Crashes are often due to the lack of understanding of CNC operators concerning CNC motion in use, spindle travel reference, CNC coordinates. zero position and CNC axes travel limits. Below are several CNC operators’ rules and precautions before running CNC machines.

Check and Recheck Manufacturing Process

As a CNC operator, you are responsible for the result after completing the process in the manufacturing of a particular part. From the print to the CNC program and the CNC motion. These steps must be checked and rechecked to avoid any errors. All CNC machines are designed for several applications such as turning, milling, grinding and drilling. But all CNC machines have two or more directions of movement or axis. This means the more axis the machine has, the more complex the CNC machine. Hence, a 3-axis milling machine is less complex than a 5-axis milling machine.

Make Sure Data is Recorded and Stored

A CNC operator is responsible for placing the part onto the table and making sure the setting of XYZ axes to the datum is recorded and stored into the work offset registry (i.e G54 TO G59 in Haas machines). This will enable the part to be located at any point within the table by simple setting the x and y value to zero than machine zero.

Ensure Spindle View Measurement

A CNC operator must understand that even though the table moves when the part is being manufactured, the motion is always measured from the spindle view, not from the table view. Hence we must always refer to the spindle centre point location when taking measurements.

Clarify Coordinate Systems

A CNC operator must not confuse between the two coordinates systems i. e the machine coordinates systems and the work coordinates systems. The machine coordinates system is set by the manufacturer of that particular machine and cannot be changed and is within the machine itself. It is therefore the reference coordinate system from which all else is referenced. The location of XYZ machine origin within the machine may be different depending on the manufacturers of the machines. Hence it is advised to check the machine manufacturer’s catalogue for precise instructions.

Know Machine Limit

A CNC operator or programmer must know the total limits that each machine axis is allowed to move. This depends on the manufacturer of the machine. However, a skilled CNC operator or programmer can identify these parameters as they decide the fate of the manufacturing process.

Know more about CNC operations with Aero Spec Engineering. We are a manufacturing facility that possesses the latest CAD & Cam software to drive quality brand multi-axis 3, 4, and 5 simultaneous axis CNC machining centres and CNC multi-axis lathes with live driven tooling and bar feeding.

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