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CAD/CAM vs Kipware® Conversational [ ADSKFusion360 vs. Kipware® Conversational ]

FACT : Using a CAD/CAM system to program the simpler, everyday workpieces is costing you money.

FACT : CAD/CAM OVERKILL is real … and is costing shops in labor hours and dollars.

FACT : CAD/CAM was NEVER designed to be a G code generating tool first and foremost … it is a design tool first and foremost. If you’re not designing … DUMP the CAD and KEEP the CAM with Kipware® conversational.

FACT : Fusion 360 may be cheap … but even FREE software can disrupt efficiency and productivity if you can’t produce G code … and chips … in a timely manner.

Here’s the proof :

Get the low down on real world software that can save you time and money … Kipware® conversational … at our website : www.KentechInc.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Fanuc Macro Programming Training Series [ Part 1 – Fanuc Macro Programming Basics ]

R U Sitting Down ??
OK then Buckle up !!!

We are about to begin a long … somewhat complex … but very beneficial series teaching the how’s … why’s … and details of the Fanuc Macro B Programming Language. If you do CNC programming and are utilizing a Fanuc Control … your review and understanding about what we are about to present will definitely send you to the next level of CNC programming.

Over the next months … we will be interspersing articles in this series covering Fanuc Macro B programming from the basics to the complex. We will still be including and sharing some of our sought after CNC Tips and Tricks … but we will also be including articles in this series as we go along as well.

So check back often … follow along … and hopefully we can help bring your CNC programming skills to the next level.

Part One : The Basics

What is Fanuc Custom Macro B ?

Custom Macro is the name given by Fanuc to it’s programming language that enables users to take the standard G code programming to another level. Custom Macro allows users to include instructions, mathematical equations, changing variables and a host of other advanced functions in a G code program.

Because of the power of this language, anytime a thought occurs like ” I just need to repeat what I did here” or similar, it’s probably a good time to consider using custom macro programming. Some examples where Custom Macro programming can be employed :

  • Dimensions or other values require calculations or re-calculations “on the fly”.
  • The programming of family of parts or parts that repeat the basic operations but contain only dimensional changes.
  • Dimensions or other values need to be stored or transferred to other addresses in a program.
  • Complex operations where the basic pattern or cutting sequence remains the same … an example would be pocketing … but dimensional changes, that can be defined by one or a series of mathematical formulas, need to be re-calculated “on the fly”.
  • The basic “rule of thumb” is that Macro programming probably can be utilized anywhere where repetition exists.

As you explore this series, we will bring out many instances where macro programming can and should be employed … but we are also sure that these will open doors to macro programming examples in your own world as well. Keep an open mind !!!!

Macro Programming vs. Sub Programming

There are similarities and many differences between a CUSTOM MACRO program and a standard SUB PROGRAM. We outline in this chapter some of the major differences and similarities.

SIMILARITIES :

  • Both types can be called from another program.
  • Both types are stored in memory  under their own program number.
  • Both types can be called to repeat a pre-determined number of times.
  • Both types can be called multiple times from other sub or macro programs.
  • Both types end with the M99 command.

DIFFERENCES :

  • Macro program body can perform and contain mathematical equations.
  • Macro program calls can establish values for variables used in the macro program.
  • A macro program can be called and made “modal” to repeat until the cancel command is issued.
  • Macro programs can be called from user defined G, M and T codes via parameter settings.

The creation of a custom macro program is identical to the creation of a sub program. Both types are registered to the memory under their own program number and stored separately in the memory. As with sub programs, the end of the custom macro program is done through the use of the M99 command.

OK … there are some basics. If you have questions … I’m sure we will address them in the coming articles.

SOOO … stay tuned for even Happier Chip Making !!

If you found this post valuable …
Please help support “real world” CNC and check out our Real World Software at www.KentechInc.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

CNC Machine Maintenance – Don’t Just Fill Your Oils [Using a Strategy That Includes Proactive CNC Maintenance]

… Track Them ?

Why?
I’m glad you asked !!

Did you know that filling your way lube tank can tell you a story about your machine’s performance. It can, if you use the information to your advantage. How?

The best way is to make an oil fill reminder form and post it on the machine. Each time oil, any type of oil, is added to the machine, have the operator jot down the following:

  • Type of oil added
  • Date and Time the oil was added
  • Amount of oil added
  • On a turning center, when the chuck was greased

This data can be used for the following :

Type Of Oil :

This tells you which oil tank might be giving you trouble. If you’re filling the hydraulic tank (a closed system) – WHY and WHERE is the oil leaking from. Low hydraulic oil could result in a loss of pressure and perhaps an un-chucking of a part being machined with catastrophic results. If you’re replacing way-lube (which you should), what kind of schedule are you on. This list should show a difference in the frequency of the filling which will easily and early show a way-lube system problem and head-off major repairs.

Date and Time the oil was added :

This info gives you a clear view of the filling schedule. Again, not filling the way-lube tank, for example, will be easily seen and catastrophe can be averted.

Amount of oil added :

As above, this info gives you a clear schedule of the filling schedule. Filling the way lube tank once every two days instead of once every three days will show up and might signal a line break or other problem that can easily be spotted and repaired in time.

As with everything in life, the info gathered is only as good as the person viewing it. Teach your operators to be hands-on people and to pay attention to this list, perhaps every morning with the machine start-up. Simple ideas like this TIP can help extend your machine’s life and cut down dramatically on your machine’s down time and repair bills.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Check out our REAL WORLD CNC and Machine Shop Software at :
www.KentechInc.com

Why CAD/CAM Post Processors are Old School and Obsolete [Stop the CAD/CAM Post Processor Madness]

There is no denying that going from a CAD drawing through CAM and then to the output of the final G code program … a post processor is an essential tool. And if you wish to output that G code to multiple machines and controls … then you must need multiple post processors. Right ???? And if your shop has multiple machines/controls … I’ll need multiple posts for all the machines. Right ????

Well … if you still want to think and believe old school … then yes, that’s right. If you looking for a better way … a less expensive way … a  more flexible way … a way that also has other UP sides … then the answer is NO. And we are here to tell you why and show how.

Here’s a hint … G code conversion using KipwareXC® and Kipware® CNC XChange.

Conversion

Post Processors are OLD SCHOOL …
Re-Posting

Post processors … taking for granted that you are even using a CAD/CAM system … are really only good once … at program creation. After that … they really are useless. Running back to re-post for other machines/controls is time consuming and inefficient … and that is taking for granted that you even have the CAD file. If the program has been on the shop floor for a while … chances are good edits have been made … speeds, feeds, toolpaths, etc.. Re-posting eliminates all that and basically makes you start at program-prove out stage again … not efficient. What if you could simply take that proven G code and have a G code conversion app auto-convert that G code to any other format you would require? That’s NEW SCHOOL … that’s KipwareXC® and Kipware® CNC XChange.

Post Processors are OLD SCHOOL …
Multiple Posts for Multiple Machines

Of course you must buy multiple posts for the multiple types of machine / controls on your floor … RIGHT??? Or have you ever thought about not buying other machines/ controls because it would mean all the “getting a new post” headaches and costs. OLD SCHOOL THINKING !!! What if you could simply output your code using the same proven post you are already using … and have a G code conversion app auto-convert that G code to any other format you would require? That’s NEW SCHOOL … that’s KipwareXC® and Kipware® CNC XChange.

Beyond Post Processors …
Only Program Machine/Control’s You Know

Let’s take a look at programming beyond the CAD/CAM system … like manual programming. The OLD SCHOOL thinking says that the programmer must be familiar with the machine and control he is programming. New school thinking says … not any more. What if I am familiar with Fanuc programming and have to program a Fagor control. What if I could write my program in Fanuc format … and run it through a converter that would auto convert it to Fagor format. That’s NEW SCHOOL … that’s KipwareXC® and Kipware® CNC XChange.

Need a better look? … how about a video. The video below illustrates how KipwareXC® can be used instead of a post processor to auto-convert a modern day Fanuc program into a yesterday’s format required for a GE1050 control.

The video and points outlined in this article are simply a starting point. I am sure you and your shop have similar scenarios in which the above points might apply in some way. If so … we invite you to contact us at any of the options below … and let us show you how NEW SCHOOL thinking with KipwareXC® and Kipware® CNC XChange can eliminate the multiple forms of “control incompatibility” from your shop floor.

Our Website :
http://www.kentechinc.com/KipwareConversionSoftware.html

Request a Live, OnLine Demonstration :
http://www.kentechinc.com/Webex_Request.html

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Kentech Inc. Introduces CNC and Machine Shop Consulting Services [CNC Programming and Estimating Engineers]

Over our years creating our market leading CNC and machine shop software applications … we have been asked many, many times to go beyond software support to assist our users by taking a bigger role. Sometimes the request was for just some consulting, mentoring or guidance … other times we were requested to perform complete projects like G code conversion of hundreds of files or complete CNC programming for complex workpieces the client couldn’t handle.

After all … I do have 30+ years of experience in various manufacturing roles from manual machining to CNC programming to manufacturing engineering to complete machine shop management. So ya … I can help.

So starting June 1, Kentech Inc. has expanded our offerings to include contract consultancy and engineering for quoting and estimating … CNC programming … G code conversion … and custom CNC and machine shop software development.

We created a new website dedicated to these services … so if you have interest in exploring our services deeper … you can get the complete picture along with pricing at www.KentechInc.net.

I invite you to visit the website where you will find service outlines, pricing and complete background check of the REAL WORLD experiences that we can bring to any project or shop issue you may be confronted with. I think you will find it time well spent.

Thanks in advance …
Kenney Skonieczny
President – Kentech Inc.

The Definitive Thinking Man’s Guide to 5 Axis Programming [Conversational 5 Axis Programming is HERE]

5 axis CNC machining is quickly becoming all the rage as it’s benefits become more and more apparent. The real problem though is everyone thinks that 5 axis programming is only meant for complex, multi-axis workpieces. But that is very far from the actual truth.

Well let’s back up and start with some facts. There are basically (2) school’s of thought when talking about 5 axis milling. Yes, if you want to make a fan blade … true 5 axis is probably needed and yes it’s complicated. But the 2nd school of thought involves what is called 3+2 positional 5 axis milling. As the name implies … it involves 3 axis ( X / Y/ Z ) and 2 additional axis … A which usually revolves around the X axis and B which usually revolves around the Y axis. This type of programming usually includes A nd B axis as indexing axis’s only. Perfect for multi-sided machining where “true” 5 axis (all the axis moving at the same time) is not required … you basically want to just reduce set-up and fixturing and you want to machine on multiple faces of the part using a single set-up. Like that sample parts illustrated below.

If you have ever worked with a 4 axis indexing table on your VMC … you can relate pretty easily. The 4th axis gives you the ability to fixture the part once and by indexing the 4th axis machine on up to 4 faces of the workpiece. Well adding the 5th axis is similar … but gives you the ability to machine on 5 faces … or use a combination of A and B axis achieve more angles and thus more faces to machine on.

See … not so complicated when you consider 3+2 positional 5 axis.

KipwareM® is FULL 4 and 5 axis positional COMPATIBLE … STANDARD !!

When we built KipwareM® … our conversational CNC programming software for milling … we built a robust, user friendly, powerful CNC programming tool … not some under developed “wizard”. We know from our experiences on the shop floor that CAD/CAM can oftentimes be overkill and even slow down the programming process and remove good chipmakers from that process. So if you want an alternative to CAD/CAM … it better be robust and capable of handling a little complexity and import DXF files for the non-standard type stuff. We built that in KipwareM®.

We also built a very flexbile and powerful feature with our EIA MENU. This menu allows users to create ANY snippit of G code they might need … create it once and then recall and use it any time when programming any part.

This feature gives you the ability to create an indexing program for the A and / or B axis and use that snippit any time in any program.

Below is a video showing this feature in a 4 axis programming example … 5 axis is pretty similar.

Watch KipwareM® in ACTION — 5 Axis Example

Below is a video illustrating how to create a 5 axis program on a Haas 5 axis CNC.

So Don’t Be AFRAID of 5 Axis … KipwareM® is HERE !!!

So … if you’re in the market  for a new CNC for your shop … maybe consider 5 axis. Now knowing there is a REAL WORLD tool out there … that isn’t a complex and expensive CAD/CAM system … that can help you get easily program 5 axis you can take a deeper look at how a 5 axis CNC can benefit your shop. As mentioned … not all 5 axis work is complex fan blades but more often than not just multi-surface programming. And KipwareM® conversational has you covered !!

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

CNC Lathe Tool Turret – How to Properly Distribute Your Tools

 

I love the fact that as a former CNC service tech I am now able to pass my experiences in machine repair onto others through the use of our BLOG. I have seen a lot in my many years in the field and I feel that I have some valuable tips and tricks to pass on to others … and love to do it. ( PS … If you haven’t subscribed to our BLOG NEWSLETTER you can do so in the left toolbar. This way you can keep on top of our valuable tips and tricks. )

In this post I would like to touch on the proper way to load your tooling onto your CNC lathe turret. Seems like a pretty simple thing but actually doing it improperly can cause turret misalignment and even fatigue over time and lead to damage to the turret indexing mechanism. So hopefully a few quick pointers will help your CNC lathe enjoy many years of worry free service.

If you have a mill … vice and fixture placement carries the same type of consideration. See this blog post for more on that ;  http://kentechinc.biz/move-that-vise/

WEIGHT

The first and main consideration is to evenly distribute the weight around the turret. Keep in mind that ID tool holders weigh considerably more than OD turning tool holders. In the process of loading tools and seeking clearance for indexing and cutting … you might be tempted to load all the longer tools (usually the ID drills and boring bars) on one side … and all the shorter tools (OD turning and grooving tools) on the other … and there is the problem as the pic below illustrates.

This type of configuration put all the weight with the ID holders and makes the turret unbalanced.  It works for cutting as it keeps the tool interference issue off the table … but should be avoided as much as possible. The pic below illustrates  a more balanced and healthy approach to tool distribution.

WHY WEIGHT MATTERS

The reason balanced weight distribution matters you ask? As the turret rotates to index tools … and new machine index speed is pretty fast … even weight distribution insures that the turret stops … and clamps … in an efficient and let’s say less stressful manner. With unequal weight distribution … the turret may overshoot during indexing and be unable to clamp … causing a lock up … or it can cause uneven wear on the curvic coupling over time … the mechanism used for the accurate turret face to turret body clamping. You can watch the turret index, stop and lock and if the movement seems clunky … you might try to readjust the weight distribution.

DISTRIBUTION TRICKS

Sometimes it’s just impossible to keep the tools and weight evenly distributed … tool interference  usually being the main culprit. So what can you do? One of the best tricks is to use “dummy” holders to help distribute some weight. 

As the pic above illustrates … loading some heavier ID holders opposite the needed ID holders can help balance the weight and allow you to place tools where required to avoid tool interference during cutting.  Being creative can surely help.

Using a little common sense and taking the time to watch closely the movement and indexing of your turret to insure it’s smooth can mean longer life and accurate cutting for your CNC lathe.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Powering ON / OFF Your CNC — The RIGHT WAY !!

Believe it or not … there is a RIGHT and WRONG way to turn the power on and off to your CNC equipment at the start and end of the day. And the difference can mean increased life for a lot of the electrical components at the heart of your equipment.

During my 20+ years as a field service engineer for Mori Seiki and Yamazen USA … the first thing I taught clients when they received their new CNC machine was the correct way to power up and power off. I knew from my experience that even this little lesson would bring big dividends over the long haul.

The main idea is to dissipate power or bring power on line in an orderly and limited manner. Big power boosts or cuts can damage delicate electrical components over the long haul and can even mean damage in the short run that will eventually lead to big failure.

Let’s start with the power OFF routine …

We’ll start with the power OFF because power on is the exact opposite. So we want to get this done right first off.

The WORST thing to do is to simply cut the power using the breaker on the machine. This creates a huge power vacuum all at once … not a good thing for delicate CNC electrical components. That breaker or switch  usually look something like this …

At POWER OFF … my recommended process is :

  1. Hit the big RED button … E-STOP is #1. This will kill the power to the motors and lock the axis movement preventing any axis jumps due to a bigger power cut. The E-STOP circuit is designed specifically for this type of power cut.
  2. #2 — CONTROL POWER OFF. Next up press the power off button for the CNC control. This will now kill the power to the CNC control components and control panel in an orderly manner. Again … that’s what the control off circuit is designed for.
  3. LAST — turn off the circuit breaker on the machine. Not the panel on the power box at the wall of the shop … the one at the machine. This will be the final power kill but at this point on limited items are still powered up and running.
(1) E-Stop
(2) Power Off
(3) Main Breaker

This is an orderly process that will turn the power off and dissipate power from the components in an orderly and minimum manner.

 POWER ON … the exact opposite :

  1. MAIN BREAKER ON
  2. CONTROL POWER ON
  3. UNLOCK the E-STOP (which was depressed at power off) … once that is unlocked the power will automatically return … although on some circuits you may need to  press the CONTROL POWER ON again once the E-STOP is released.

Should I Even Bother To Power Off My Machine ?

I know a lot users don’t even bother to turn the machine off … they just keep it powered on continuously.  I also know a lot of thinking here is that the power surge to the components is worse. Yes … that’s true if you just kill the BREAKER as your power off routine … but if you use the process I outlined here you will not adversely effect your electronics with power off … and you’ll save a TON on your electricity bill !!

Hope you found this article useful …
Happy LONG and PROSPEROUS Chipmaking !!

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

G Code Circle Milling – Like a PROFESSIONAL !!

Milling a counterbore or doing other circle cutting using an end mill or similar tool can be a powerful and creative machining process. Most times replacing the need for a reamer, boring bar or other sizing tool. This type of cutting, when combined with cutter compensation gives the operator much more flexibility in adjusting the size of the finished hole.

However, the main drawback is usually created using simple programs and is usually found at the entry and exit points where a small tool mark can be created due to the tool pressure caused at the entry of the cut. With a little creative programming technique and some simple calculations, a much more efficient and “professional” program can be created.

In this post, we’re going to take you step by step through a program creation to mill a circle using the “loop in – loop out” method which takes the cutter from the center into the side of the hole using an arc move – then cuts completely around the hole – then loops back to the center using another arc move. This type of cutting gives a real nice finish in the hole, helps maintain size a little better and leaves no tool mark at entry or exit points.

In our example, finish milling an inside round pocket using G02 or G03, a cutter mark will remain from tool pressure at the entrance and exit point of the arc. In order to create a smooth entrance and exit, some “tricky” machining technique must be employed because most machines do not have a “canned cycle” for the type of cutting explained here. Although this employs nothing more than simple G02 or G03 commands, the manner in which the codes are used and the type of process that results, makes efficient use of the simple codes and makes a more attractive and accurate workpiece.

The objective with the example below is to create a smooth transition into and out of the cut. In the example below, we are attempting to machine a 2 in. radius circle with a 1 in. radius cutter.

STEP #1 : We calculate the arc needed to move the cutter from the center of the pocket to the finish wall edge. In the example below, we use the following formula :

2.00 (pocket radius) – 1.00 (cutter radius) = 1.00

This is the distance needed to move from the pocket center to the wall edge, allowing for the cutter radius.

STEP #2 : Next divide the total distance in half to obtain the radius needed to swing an arc from the center to the outer edge as calculated above.

1.00 / 2 = .500

If you like this concept … we invite you to take a look at our Kipware® Conversational CNC Programming Software …it auto-creates G code from fill-in-the-blank forms … NO CAD experience required !!! CLICK HERE for MORE

Cutter  Compensation  Note : 

Some controls will allow for the activation of CUTTER COMPENSATION on the example program block #1. In that case, you can calculate the same as above but do not compensate for the cutter radius, instead call the cutter compensation G Code and compensation offset number on the program block. In our example, the program block would be :

G02 G91 G42 X2.00 Y0 R.500 D12 

In this block, we are using G42 (cutter compensation right) and storing the radius of the cutter in offset #12. Using cutter comp as above will allow for the easy adjustment of the pocket size by adjusting the value in offset #12. Don’t forget to cancel the cutter comp with G40 after the tools cutting is complete.

 Creating a “CYCLE” : 

Using a simple combination of sub-programming, you can take the example above a step further and create a simple Z axis step-down cycle resulting in the roughing of the above example with little effort.

In the program example below, we are taking the circle cutting routine created above and storing it in a sub program. The main program will step the Z axis down – call the sub-program to machine the hole at that depth, then return to the main program which will in turn move the Z axis to another depth and start the process again. This “cycle” repeats until the total depth is achieved.

Main Program : 

{ start and position the tool to the hole center as normal }

G01 G90 Z-.100 F15.0 ; — move to the depth of the first cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 which does the cutting as above

G01 G90 Z-.200 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 again at the new depth

G01 G90 Z-.300 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 again

G01 G90 Z-.400 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

…. etc. till the desired depth is realized

Sub Program : 

O1111;

G02 G91 X1.00 Y0 R.500 F10.0 ; — circle to the hole edge

G02 I-1.00 ; ——————— cut the complete circle

G02 X-1.00 Y0 R.500 ; ———— circle back to the center

M99 ; —————————- return to the main program

This is just one example of the combination use of the sub-programming feature and “simple” programming codes to create a user cycle. You can always use your initiative and create some other ideas. Maybe think about these  :

How can you put the Z axis move in the sub-program as well ?

Call the sub program and repeat a set number of times ?

… any others ?

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

G62 – Automatic Corner Override – Brief Overview

When milling, have you ever experienced chatter and poor surface finish when you are attempting to machine an inside corner radius using the same feedrate as the rest of the workpiece?

Oftentimes, this results in the programmer having to decrease the cutting feedrate in the blocks where the tool cuts in the corner areas. Is there another way to have this done automatically ?

The most common situation above occurs when cutter compensation (G41 or G42) is active and you are attempting to cut in a corner where the toolpath inside radius and the TNR offset value are of similar size. You can use the machine to calculate an automatic decrease in feedrate using the G62 – Automatic Corner Override command ( This is a Fanuc G code … check your programming manual if you are programming a non-fanuc compatible machine … there is probably a similar command.) When G62 is commanded, the machine adjusts the feedrate automatically to maintain the cutting quantity per unit time in the corner. This often results in improved surface finish without the intervention or alteration of the programmed feedrate.

A couple of notes for G62 use :

  1. Once commanded, G62 becomes MODAL and must be cancelled by commanding G64 (normal cutting mode) or by Power Off as G64 is usually the normal power on mode.
  2. G62 can only be used effectively in conjunction with Cutter Compensation – G41 / G42.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

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