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Programming 101: CNC

Programming 101: CNC

After World War II, people realized that they have to manufacture goods at a faster rate and at a lower cost. Hence, mass production trending came to be. Those events led to the development of the Numerical Control (NC) machines which in turn led to the Computer Numerical Control (CNC).

HOW TO PROGRAM A CNC MACHINE

CNC programming uses a code similar in structure to BASIC. So, if you know how to construct a simple counting program, chances are, you already know what a G-Code looks like. However, there a few other things you have to consider before you start encoding instructions.

The first thing that you have to do is to assign values for each of the variables. These variables include the programmable motion directions (axes), and the reference point for the axes. The values that you assign to these variables dictate the movement of the machine.

The next thing that you have to do is to take into account the accessories of the machine. Many machines have accessories that are designed to enhance the capabilities of the basic device. However, using these accessories requires you to include them in the coding system. This means that if you want a more efficient machine, you will have to know the machine inside out.

READING CODES

After those steps, you have to create a subprogram that will deal with the math. This step will then allow your machine to compute the necessary variables and effectively operate without stopping to ask the operator what the limitations are.

To show you what these codes look like, here’s an example from Wikipedia:

#100=3 (bolt circle radius)
#101=10 (how many holes)
#102=0 (x position of ctr of bolthole)
#103=0 (y position of ctr of bolthole)
#104=0 (angle of first hole
Tool call,
spindle speed,and offset pickup,etc
G43 in some cases (tool length pickup)
G81(drill cycle)
call sub program
N50
G80
M30

Subprogram
N100
#105=((COS#104)*#100) (x location)
#106=((SIN#104)*#100) (y location)
x#105 y#106 (remember your G81 code is modal)
If #100 GT 360 goto N50
#100=(#100+(360/#101))
Goto 100

In the code above, the machine is a drill. The operator utilized a loop in order to keep the machine from stopping. The subprogram then governs the cycle of the machine. This code is still quite a simple code. Other machines require the inclusion of the maximum RPM in the coding.

An easier way of programming CNC machines would be the use of Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM). This system takes on the brunt of programming so that it doesn’t seem so tedious and frustrating. It is still similar to BASIC.

Another programming enhancement that was developed was the parametric programs or the logical commands. These programs were designed to shorten lengthy codes in order to make them user friendly. However, these codes do not always use the same language with every machine. The language and sequence often varies depending on the typ of machine you will be working on.

The operator has to know what the machine can do or what it was made to do before attempting to program it. You should be able to visualize the machine doing what you want it to do.

But, you don’t have to be a math wizard or a programming genius. You just have to know what your machine does and what you want it to do.

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