CNC Machining Blog

Mike Cope

Recent Posts

Automation: it's not just for high production

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Nov 07, 2014

When people hear the term “automation”, it usually conjures visions of high production processes, where shops are running hundreds of thousands of the same part. But in today’s ever-changing and increasingly competitive industry that is not always the case. Just like many small job shops have begun to migrate toward 5-axis machines to increase multi-sided part efficiency, those same shops are also beginning to move toward automation to help them increase profits and impact their bottom line.

To understand and begin this migration toward automation, you first must understand and “buy-in” to the ideas of standardization and palletization. Winning in the game of “high-mix, low-volume” part manufacturing means reducing spindle downtime, and the first step towards winning that battle is standardizing your setup process. …after all, at the end of the day you can only invoice for the parts that you have completed. So reducing the idle time between jobs is a crucial step to getting more done in a typical eight hour shift.

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Tags: Milling, Manufacturing Industry Insights, control technology, Automation

Improving Workpiece Surface Finish

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Jun 27, 2014

As machinists we apply our skill, knowledge and experience to produce the best looking and most accurate parts that we can. We take a great deal of pride in the products that we produce, and we want others to see that pride in the finished product. But what do we do when we aren’t getting the results that we want? When dimensionally the parts meet blueprint specifications, but the surface finish and overall appearance is less than desirable? When this happens we need to go back the basics and ensure that we are using the best machining practices that we know to be correct.

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Tags: Aerospace & Defense, history of machining, 5-Axis Machining, Milling, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Mill Tooling, Turning, Lathe Tooling, Tool & Die, Mold Making, Prototype Machining, High Speed Machining

Sandvik Suggests Five things to consider when tooling up for 5-axis

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, May 09, 2014

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Tags: 5-Axis Machining, Milling, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Mill Tooling, Turning, Lathe Tooling

CNC Lathe Considerations: bed design

Posted by Mike Cope on Thu, Feb 13, 2014

In the last article we discussed the questions that you should be asking yourself when buying a CNC lathe, and we discussed some of the common terminology associated with turning. In this article I would like to build on the topic of purchasing considerations, and want to discuss the ins and outs of the two main bed designs – the true slant bed and the flatbed “flying wedge” configurations.

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Tags: history of machining, CNC Control & Software, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Turning, Lathe Tooling

CNC Lathe Considerations & Terminology

Posted by Mike Cope on Wed, Jan 22, 2014

When purchasing a CNC lathe, there are several questions that you need to ask yourself before you begin the process. Some of these questions will be quite obvious: How much axis travel do I need? What size chuck should I look for? How many tool stations are on the turret? What is the spindle bore size? Etc... However, there are other specifications that are just as important, but not always so obvious: What is the maximum swing distance that my work will require? What is the maximum turning diameter necessary for my family of parts? What kind of spindle horsepower and torque will my type of work consume? The first set of questions above is relatively easy to answer, but the second group requires a better understanding of lathes in general.

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Tags: NC / G-Code Programming, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Workholding, Turning, Lathe Tooling

5-Axis Purchasing Considerations: size does matter

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Dec 20, 2013

There are several things to keep in mind when you are in the market for a new 5-axis machining center. To be successful, you must make sure that the machine will fit all of your needs, not just your current one. Often times the purchase of a 5-axis machine is driven by a particular job or part, and sometimes shops fail to consider the other work they could run on the machine. Remember, size does matter.

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Tags: Aerospace & Defense, 5-Axis Machining, CNC Control & Software, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Workholding, CAD/CAM / Post Processor

Advanced Manufacturing Career Training: for students & business

Posted by Mike Cope on Wed, Nov 13, 2013

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Tags: CNC Control & Software, Manufacturing Industry Insights, entrepreneur, control technology

Is High Speed Machining The Right Choice For My Shop?

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Nov 01, 2013

When we hear the term "High Speed Machining" (HSM), most people associate it with mold making, but what people fail to realize is that this technology is being used effectively by shops of every kind to positively impact the bottom line...and isn't that what everyone wants???

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Tags: NC / G-Code Programming, Milling, CNC Control & Software, Manufacturing Industry Insights, CAD/CAM / Post Processor, High Speed Machining

Part & Tool Probing in a High-mix Low Volume Environment

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Oct 25, 2013

In today’s industry it’s all about quick setup and changeover between parts...especially in an environment where you run a high-mix of low volumes. In this article I want to discuss how part and tool probing can offer a real advantage for the shops that find themselves in this type of environment.

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Tags: WinMax Conversational Programming, Milling, CNC Control & Software, Manufacturing Industry Insights, Prototype Machining, Automation

3D Printing: will it replace traditional manufacturing?

Posted by Mike Cope on Fri, Sep 20, 2013

For the past ten years or so, we have seen 3D printing technology – also called Additive Manufacturing – really gain momentum in the industry. In fact, it has become so common-place that there has been speculation by some that it might actually replace traditional manufacturing in the not so distant future. Although I can see many benefits of this amazing new technology, and although I do agree that it will someday impact our lives – such as how we, as consumers, acquire many common household items - I have my reservations about how much it will ultimately change the need for traditional manufacturing processes as we know them. Because of the limitations on mixing printing materials, and the fact that the materials available for use in printing are not always the best for a particular application - not everything that can be printed, should be printed.

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Tags: Manufacturing Industry Insights, Prototype Machining, Automation