CNC Machining Blog - Tips and Tricks for Machinists

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Should You Buy New or Used CNC Machine? What's ROI of Training?

Maggie Smith Mon, Apr 06, 2015
Should You Buy New or Used CNC Machine? What's ROI of Training?

Should you buy a new or used CNC machine for your shop? Does taking the time to train your machinists really pay off?

Hi, I'm Maggie Smith, and I'm hijacking Mike Cope's blog this week. The questions this blog post addresses arose after Mike visited a machine shop in New Jersey. As a product technical specialist, Mike visits shops throughout the US. When Mike returned from his New Jersey trip, he told us about his experience, and I thought it would be good information to share with his readers. 

Automation and Machining: It's Not Just for High Production

Mike Cope Fri, Nov 07, 2014
Automation and Machining: It's Not Just for High Production

PUBLISHED: NOV. 7, 2014 

UPDATED: AUG. 3, 2023

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.

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. The first step towards winning that battle is standardizing your setup process. At the end of the day, you can only invoice for the parts that you have completed. So, reducing idle time between jobs is a crucial step to getting more done in a typical eight-hour shift.

CNC Machining: Improving Workpiece Surface Finish

Mike Cope Fri, Jun 27, 2014
CNC Machining: Improving Workpiece Surface Finish

As CNC machinists, we apply our skill, knowledge and experience to manufacture 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 to the basics and ensure that we are using the best machining practices that we know to be correct.

Buying a 5-Axis Machining Center? 5 Tooling Variables to Consider

Mike Cope Fri, May 09, 2014
Buying a 5-Axis Machining Center? 5 Tooling Variables to Consider

Even the most carefully maintained machining centers eventually become obsolete. When it’s time to replace your older machine, look for one that gives you the maximum dollar value for your investment. 5-axis machining centers are versatile, efficient and flexible, and one can do the work of two or three 3-axis machines.

With that new machine comes an opportunity to upgrade your tooling, as newer machining centers can handle more advanced tooling options. Consider these tooling variables when purchasing a new 5-axis machine.

Buying a CNC Lathe? Here's What to Know and Consider

Mike Cope Wed, Jan 22, 2014
Buying a CNC Lathe? Here's What to Know and Consider

When purchasing a CNC lathe, there are several questions 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.

5-Axis Machine Purchasing Considerations: Size Does Matter

Mike Cope Fri, Dec 20, 2013
5-Axis Machine Purchasing Considerations: Size Does Matter

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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