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CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders. The CNC in CNC Machining stands for Computer Numerical Control.
On the surface, it may look like a normal PC controls the machines, but the computer’s unique software and control console are what really sets the system apart for use in CNC machining.
Under CNC Machining, machine tools function through numerical control. A computer program is customized for an object and the machines are programmed with CNC machining language (called G-code) that essentially controls all features like feed rate, coordination, location and speeds. With CNC machining, the computer can control exact positioning and velocity. CNC machining is used in manufacturing both metal and plastic parts.
CNC part program contains a combination of machine tool code and machine-specific instructions. It consists of:
(a) Information about part geometry
(b) Motion statements to move the cutting tool
(c) Cutting speed
(e) Auxiliary functions such as coolant on and off, spindle direction
It consists of a Machine Control Unit (MCU) and machine tool itself. MCU, a computer is the brain of a CNC machine tool. It reads the part programs and controls the machine tools operations. Then it decodes the part program to provide commands and instructions to the various control loops of the machine axes of motion. The details regarding the construction and working of mechatronics based system have already been studied in last lectures.
CNC systems have a limitation. If the same NC program is used on various machine tools, then it has to be loaded separately into each machine. This is time consuming and involves repetitive tasks. For this purpose direct numerical control (DNC) system is developed. Figure 7.1.2 shows the schematic of a DNC system. It consists of a central computer to which a group of CNC machine tools are connected via a communication network. The communication is usually carried out using a standard protocol such as TCP/IP or MAP. DNC system can be centrally monitored which is helpful when dealing with different operators, in different shifts, working on different machines.
There are four basic terms used in CNC programming. These are a follows:
Character -> Word -> Block -> Program
- Character is the smallest unit of CNC program. It can have Digit / Letter / Symbol.
- Word is a combination of alpha-numerical characters. This creates a single instruction to the CNC machine. Each word begins with a capital letter, followed by a numeral. These are used to represent axes positions, federate, speed, preparatory commands, and miscellaneous functions.
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