When it comes to plasma cutting, there are three different types to choose between. These are air plasma cutting, mixed-gas plasma cutting and hi-def plasma cutting. Each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and choosing the right one is a matter of understanding the strengths of each as well as the requirements of the job.
In each case, the type of cutter refers to the type of consumable used. At Stoney CNC we are proud to offer each of these types of plasma cutters and we have a more in-depth look at all of them here.
Air Plasma Cutters
With this type of cutter, clean and dry air is used to generate the plasma stream. This can simply be sourced from the workshop the equipment is located in so long as it is well ventilated and the plasma arc’s shape is formed by the opening on the torch nozzle.
Mixed-Gas Plasma Cutters
With this type of cutter, a combination of different gases are swirled together in order to form a plasma stream. The difference with this type is that it is better suited to cutting particular types, thicknesses or densities of material. Usually, an argon-hydrogen mixture is utilised and it is ideal for cutting through stainless steel and aluminium. The resulting cut face is both clean and high-quality. When it comes to material thickness, this combination of gases is necessary for anything that exceed 25mm. Additionally, the argon-hydrogen mixture is also perfect for plasma gouging any material.
Hi-Def Plasma Cutters
Hi-def is the last type of cutter. All cuts produced by this type of cutter are superior to other types. They require a special type of nozzle design in order to make a focused, narrower arc resulting in higher energy density. This means that the cut quality will always be higher on any material up to 90mm. There will be a narrower kerf, better cut edge angularity and this type of cutter works faster than the others. It is expected that cuts made with hi-def cutters will be accurate to sub tenths of a mm. This naturally lends itself to automotive processes which was the intention when these cutters were developed. Hi-def plasma leaves cut holes that are round and do not taper at all. The edge of each cut is almost perfectly square and is free from small pieces of waste material and dross. All of this leads to the highest levels of productivity.
Are you looking for CNC machines for sale? Proper maintenance of your CNC Machines will save production time and prevent machinery failures. CNCs are very avant-garde machines with the ability to make the most complex machining tasks easier.
To maximise output, CNC machines must be properly maintained by human operators. Otherwise, most components are subject to premature wear and tears. Here’s how to prolong durability and ensure the efficacy of your CNC machines.
Be disciplined with regular maintenance schedule
Establish routine schedule maintenance and be disciplined about it. This helps to identify potential problems before they become full-blown breakdowns. If you use your CNC machine regularly, look out for grime and scrap material build-up on the exterior. Wipe down your machine with a rag daily, to keep it looking new. Cleaning and wiping your machines removes residue and debris that could trigger mechanical issues in the future.
Unscheduled machinery breakdowns can increase your repair and replacement budget by 5 times. Between waiting for spare parts shipment and wasted hours, you lose huge profits. Keep a record of your equipment’s maintenance history. This will help you to identify recurring problems, machinery expenditure and pending repairs. You are also able to diagnose any mechanical issues in the future with ease. Talk to technicians who work on the machines daily and highlight the importance of keeping records. Also, ensure your employees know where to report any alarming discovery from the reports.
Monitor machines’ fluids and grease the moving parts
CNC machines depend on fluids including hydraulic fluid and lubricants. Ensure that you replace these fluids regularly, with reference to your machine’s manual. Keep an eye on your machine to make certain that it is not consuming fluids faster than required. You will also need to grease the moving parts of your machine periodically, to prevent excessive wear and tear. You will be surprised how much you will save from proper management of fluids.
Always have spare parts ready
What if you have a mechanical issue or breakdown in the middle of production? Waiting for spare parts to be shipped it might take time, which lowers output and costs money. That is why you need to have spare parts on hand, especially for parts that are prone to breakdown. Before rushing to purchase CNC machines for sale, make sure they also have spare parts.
Finding new ways to reduce production costs is a constant challenge for manufacturers. Taking the time to evaluate and improve the CNC design process before production begins is an invaluable asset to optimising efficiency and quality. The list below offers some examples of how you can utilise within your business.
Keeping it simple
Simplicity is key when seeking to minimise production costs. Simple product designs are not only faster to manufacture but will typically require less material, keeping front-end costs low and reducing waste. However, such simple designs are not always possible depending on your customer’s requirements. Therefore, keeping the CNC design as straightforward as you can will be of great benefit. The fewer tools needed to make the product will not only reduce the setup time for the CNC system but will also mean it is easier to assemble and cheaper to maintain over the longer term.
Choosing the right tools
While it is tempting to use custom-made tooling to offer a unique product design, the reality is that using CNC tools which are already on the market is more cost-effective. Commercial tools purchased from a reputable supplier are easier to source and replace when required.
Making the process automatic
One of the major advantages of CNC production is the reduction in labour costs.
By taking the time at the design stage to assess how much of the manufacturing process can be automated, you can identify where unnecessary overheads can be reduced. This will be of great benefit to smaller manufacturers looking to gain a secure foothold in increasingly competitive markets.
It goes without saying that the more products that can be manufactured at one time, the lower the unit cost of each product will be. These savings can then be passed on to the end user, offering your business a useful economic advantage. However, maximising production does not necessarily mean sacrificing quality for quantity. Efficient CNC system design will help you strike a fine balance between the two.
How we can help
Stoney CNC can assist you throughout the CNC design process to provide you with a cost-effective system that will satisfy all your production requirements.
In addition to offering a range of CNC routing and milling systems, Stoney also specialise in training, consultancy and full after sales support to ensure that you have the opportunity to find the best CNC solution for your business.
A CNC router uses computer numerical control (CNC) to cut pre-programmed shapes and templates from wood and metal with pin-point accuracy. Large standalone units are for professional use while smaller bench top models are a versatile choice for the DIY enthusiast or hobbyist. Both types feature a fixed or plunge adjustable height bar and a sprung collet for holding the cutters. Adaptable controls for feed rate, spindle speed, step down and step over is provided by the CAM software package.
The CNC router follows a programmable code or pattern known as a tool path to cut or carve the required shape. A profile or contour tool path is used for completely cutting out loose shapes. A pocket tool path only carves into the surface to create a recessed pattern and the process can be repeated until the required depth is achieved. The router can be used to cut multi-dimensional shapes in decorative panels. Beginners are advised to master the two-dimensional reliefs before progressing to sophisticated three-dimensional work which uses containment boundaries to limit the cutting tool on a set of x and y co-ordinates.
Although there are many specialised tools available, the router uses relatively inexpensive tools or bits that are categorised into four flute patterns.
Straight – A versatile bit that effectively removes material
Compression – A combined flute pattern that is effective on laminated surfaces
Down Spiral – It is less effective at material removal and works at a slower pace
Up Spiral – Ideal for removing the surface layer of plywood
The cuts from the router bits as they rotate at high speeds are referred to as climb and conventional depending on which side they are moving on. A left-sided cut is a climb and is particularly useful when the material has a left-sided grain. A right-sided conventional cut offers the beginner a greater degree of control.
Stoney CNC has an extensive selection of affordable and professional routers to suit beginners and professionals. Accessories include specialised bits, electronic control panels and mist coolants. Stoney CNC offer training in using our products and we provide fast and reliable customer support.
With the advances in the development of computers and software for use in the manufacturing environment, it was inevitable that machine tools like lathes, mills, and grinders would be controlled by computers and not by humans anymore.
This led to the development of Computer Numerical Control Systems or in short, CNC systems where machine tools are controlled by computers with pre-programmed software programs to manufacture items extremely accurately with limited wastage.
How Does CNC Work?
CNC machining refers to the use of manufacturing tools and machinery controlled by computers loaded with pre-programmed software programs. This allows machines like lathes, mills, routers, and grinders to function without any manual control while performing cutting tasks that include three-dimensional cuts, without the limitations of being controlled manually by operators.
The software programs are used to control the different actions performed by the machine in relation to the feed rate, speed and direction of movement using a programming language called G-Code, written by programmers. The computer will save the CNC programming in its memory with the code used to allow the addition of additional prompts to be added when required. The software offers the possibility to run the machines in pre-programmed cycles while controlling their speed and position. This allows a wide range of applications in plastic and metal manufacturing.
Benefits of Using CNC Manufacturing
There are many benefits in using CNC machines to manufacture products; we will discuss a number of the benefits below:
Production can be increased with the automated production of items in a shorter time span.
Components with an intricate design can be produced to cater to different market segments.
Higher levels of accuracy can be achieved that generates less wastage and increases production output which saves on production and labour costs.
The process is controlled by computers with pre-programmed software and the manufacturing process can run uninterrupted.
The software can be changed and be adapted to ensure that current CNC machines can be scaled to keep pace with growth.
Adding Value to CNC Systems
Stoney CNC pride themselves that they don’t only sell products but provide CNC solutions for a diverse range of customers from beginners to large scale manufacturers. Our product range offers routing and milling machines that are renowned for their performance, reliability and quality that will last for a long time.
Stoney CNC provides a total service that starts from assessing your needs to providing a tailor-made solution that includes demonstration, installation and commissioning of the CNC machines. To ensure proper functioning of the system we provide on-site training, excellent after sales care and service that extends from the machine to the computer and its software.
Contact us at Stoney CNC to turn your desktop into an integrated CNC machining system with CAD/CAM capability to meet your manufacturing needs.
CNC programming stands for Computer Numerical Control Programming. Manufacturers use it to come up with program instructions for computers which they use to regulate a machine tool. CNC is great for automation and flexibility. When learning G code, you should think of it as learning a new language.
Start slowly-one word at a time. In the end, you will be able to understand complete sentences. All machines use G-code and it is simple. Even though commercial machines often use fancy software and the programs have some proprietary code, the basics are the same.
CNC Programming Software
There is software for CNC programming so you can create CNC programs even if you don’t know G-code. All you need to do is learn a few G-code commands. It is possible to create a CNC program regardless of the text editing application you choose. Using plain text, type in your code and save the file with the extension .gcode or .nc. Load it into the CNC control software and run the program.
There are a few phrases that you need to learn if you hope to learn programming basics for CNC machine software. They help you learn how to make the right command. Some of the most common phrases include;
G0 – Move to a specified point at full speed
G1 -Cut a straight line
G2 – Cut an arc in a clockwise direction
G3 – Cut an arc in an anti-clockwise direction
G20 – Coordinates in inches
G21 – Coordinates in millimetres
G40 – Make a cut right down the middle of a line
G41 – Make a cut to the left by the radius of the tool
G42 – Make a cut to the right by the radius of the tool
To provide instructions to a CNC machine, you need to type a command and coordinates. If, for example, you want to cut a straight line, your code may be G1 X3 Y0. The code can be transmitted as “cut a straight line up to 3 in the X-axis and at 0’’ in the Y-axis.
For some commands, you may need to include extra parameters. The tool radius compensation is one of those parameters.
CNC offsets are a lot like the memories on electronic calculators. Without memories, you cannot save constant values. You, therefore, need to keep re-entering the number. CNC offsets are basically storage locations for your numerical values.
Why are they Important?
Different machine tools may use offsets for different purposes. Some of the most common ones include the following:
To specify the length of Each Tool
It is almost impossible for a programmer to predict the exact length of every tool in a program. Tool length compensation makes things a lot easier.
To Determine the Radius of the Cutting Tool
A programmer may find it difficult to create a tool path depending on their milling cuter. In the case of resharpening, the size of the cutter is likely to change and the programmer would have to change the program. This would be impractical.
Learning G code does not need to be difficult. Practice using the simple commands and you will be an expert in no time.
To find out more about our range of CNC solutions, please call Stoney CNC on +44(0)1432607908 or send an enquiry.
The manufacturing industry has started to shift from the use of conventional to CNC machining. CNC gives you plenty of advantages that you may not get from conventional machining. It is great for industries which require precision and efficiency. These industries include; agriculture, aerospace, automotive, military, publishing, production, and transportation.
The first CNC machines were developed in the 1940s for the United States Air Force. The following are some of the reasons why CNC machining is better than conventional machining.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Skills
When using conventional machining, you need to have lots of skills and machining. With CNC machines, that is not necessary. Even though having some skills and experience may make things easier, it is possible for just about anyone to use CNC machines. CNC machines eliminate human error in production. If you are trying to improve your production without spending a lot of your time and effort in training, CNC is the right choice.
If you need to produce the same part multiple times, consider CNC machining. Conventional machining makes sense when you want to make only one custom piece. Replica production in CNC machining does not affect the quality of your work. Once you enter your design specifications into the CNC machine, it will execute as many quantities as you wish.
Improved Production Options
CNC software provides you with many production options. With the emergence of advanced software, you can manufacture products that are impossible with conventional machinery. If need be, you can update the software for better functionality.
You do not need a lot of personnel when using CNC machines. With one skilled operator, it is possible to run multiple CNC machines. With conventional machines, you need at least one worker for every machine. You may even need a supervisor to oversee the group. You can invest your money on satisfying your clients instead of sourcing for labour.
The amount of time and effort that goes into the maintenance of conventional machines is much higher than CNC machines. G-code based software makes automatic updates so you don’t need to worry. The only service you may need to do is changing the cutting implements and cleaning. You do not need to hire a professional to do the job for you.
Prototypes are Not Necessary
With CNC software, you can simulate an idea before cutting it out. The fact that you don’t need to produce a prototype helps you save time and money. CNC software may help you save a lot of your production time.
CNC machines give your operators a safer environment because of the fast production process and consistency of the pieces. Operators do not have to be in close contact with the tools. With conventional machines, operators are in direct contact with the sharp tools.
If you are interested in the fabrication of metal parts, consider the use of CNC machining over conventional machining. It has plenty of advantages that could be good for your business.
When considering your plasma cutting system it is important to consider what size and thickness of sheet materials you will be processing. The size and thickness of the sheet will dictate the overall machine size and footprint and the capacity of the high voltage source.
The Powercut 10 x 5 plasma cutter can process sheets up to 3000 x 1500mm and is a fully standalone unit. If you want to process 4000 x 2000mm sheets then this necessitates a plasma that is a portal design. This requires the installation of islands that the machine sits on and the cutting bed rolls in underneath. The thickness will then dictate the cutting source, Typically a 65Amp PMX system from Hypertherm will process up to 10-12mm plate with excellent finish. To go up to 25mm plate you need to consider the PMX125 system. There are also options for high definition cutting and the use of water mist to process stainless. Whatever your need – give us a shout and we’ll help you out.
While operating the machine, you should use shade 5 glasses to shield out harmful light rays from the eyes of the user. Shade 5 glasses are recommended for powerful plasma cutters of up to 50 to 60 amperes. Respirators with filters rated for vapour and fumes are also recommended unlike ordinary gas mask which would offer less protection. Moreover, one should wear fit leather gauntlet-type gloves to protect the hands from burns and other injuries.
Cutting Speed and Machine Settings
For a consistent cut you must carefully check the processing speed of your plasma cutter. The processing speed is vitally important for a clean cut. Our Powercut series will maintain the plasma arc voltage when cutting. This uses the arc voltage from the cutting process to maintain the torch height. Our system keeps the plasma voltage within 0.5 volts when in height control mode. In this way the cut height and processing conditions can be maintained exactly. Torch settings, consumable choice and machine setup all play a part. As part of a Powercut installation we will take you through all these settings.
Care and Maintenance
Keeping you machine clean and oiled is the best way to prolong the life of the CNC plasma cutting machine. The torch tip and consumables should be replaced when they become old and worn. Careful handling of the sheets when loading and unloading is also important when close to the cutting machines CNC controller bridge and Z axis.
For best cutting ensure all process settings are correct, ensure the steel is sitting flat and secure on the machine. Ensure you have the correct consumables loaded into the machine torch and please check that the voltage control system is working correctly.
CNC Machining (Computer Numerical Control) is the process that is applied in design and manufacturing and involves the use of computers to monitor and control the operations of assembly line tools such as mills and lathes.
In CNC design, the cost is always a factor to consider. For a typical machine part, the machining cost is determined by the milling time spent on the part, the size of the part and the material used in crafting the part. Although size is the least “negotiable factor” the cost it implies could be minimised by altering geometries used to achieve a design that is less complex and has fewer smaller features. In this way, the cost is effectively reduced.
When designing common parts such as the internal corner radii, it is advisable to design radii as large as possible as most tools will normally require a radius of at least 8 times the depth of the pockets. Moreover, a larger radius is machined faster saving on the lead time. Complex design such as designing parts with pockets that are too deep will require more time and resources during machining. Therefore, ensuring the design is kept as simple as possible would be beneficial for as it not only saves time during design but also saves on time and material during machining.
Caution on wall thickness/thinness
The thickness of the walls may be altered during design to your advantage. For instance, thinner walls tend to pose the risk of breakage. For this reason, it is advisable to design wall parts as thick as possible, while still maintaining proportionality to existing form and fit. Thinner walls are subject to breakage during machining which means an increase in cost. Through the automated quoting systems in CNC design, parts in design which have lower standard part tolerance will be flagged and best corrected during design.
For both prototyping and production, the type of material used could either work in favour or against saving on cost. For instance, using aluminium over steel on parts that require more metallic material would lower on cost. Furthermore, aluminium is much easier to the machine. Material such as titanium is expensive and harder to machine, therefore, are less advisable. On approximation, titanium may cost up to six times as compared to aluminium.
Necessity of Finishes
Material finishes such as anodising and powder coating would require manual labour. Moreover, if multiple parts require this kind of finishing would mean more lead time which is ultimately costly. Therefore, one standard finish that is more suitable and applicable should do just fine as each individual additional finish adds on labour costs.
Critical Questions to Ask When Getting CNC Machines
The need for accuracy in manufacturing has fuelled the demand for CNC machines. The equipment makes it possible to create intricate components for a wide range of uses. However, the quality of CNC parts will depend on the machines used for the specific CNC process. Buying CNC equipment is a big decision that requires careful consideration.
Various aspects come into play when deciding why one machine is better than another. Asking your supplier a few crucial questions will help narrow down your options for CNC machines for sale.
Is the Machine Pre-assembled?
You have to know if the assembly of the CNC machine is done at the factory or the buyer has to do some or all of it. Almost every high-end machine comes pre-assembled, which minimises the work a purchaser has to do. If the machine is not assembled at the plant, then it means your technicians must be capable of putting it together correctly, or a technician will visit after the machine has been delivered in order to assemble the machine system to its finished state. At Stoney CNC we supply a range of kite machines and pre-built machines. The kit machines can travel in custom packaging and therefore can be shipped very efficiently. Fully build machines are usually freight shipped and are fully ready to go when the system is delivered.
What Level of Support is Available?
Tech support is invaluable when buying a CNC machine. The relationship with a supplier should not end after the purchase. During the lifetime of the equipment, a variety of issues can come up. Operators may need help with certain parts, problems may arise during set up, or you may need assistance with the maintenance. The supplier should be able to offer the necessary technical support when required. Ask about the availability of technicians and response time because they will determine downtime in cases of machine repair. Stoney CNC specialises in full aftersales support that ensures each client received efficient assistance when necessary.
Are there Options Available for Upgrades?
Over time, your CNC machining project will evolve, meaning that the equipment must be able to accommodate the changes. An ideal machine should be easily scalable without costing you too much. Adjusting a CNC machine for growing requirements may necessitate a change in software or a few other components. Find out if the supplier can facilitate this or offer recommendations when the time comes. Stoney CNC provides consultancy services that come in handy when clients need to scale their equipment.
Buyers have a host of alternatives when it comes to CNC machines for sale; the trick is figuring out the right equipment for specific projects. Stoney CNC carries CNC machines of superior standard that cover a broad category of needs. Whether you need entry-level systems or OEM supplied machines, Stoney CNC has something suitable.