Which Control Should I Get On My Mill?
Six Questions To Help Qualify a Customer's Request In Choosing The Right CNC Control
What are the Travels of the Machine? How big is the Table? Horse Power?
Longer travel machines will normally come with larger tables utilizing larger vises and parts. In turn, these applications could require sometimes larger motors to drive the X & Y axis. Besides the motor size, this question will normally answer two others; the question of which control and if the machine is 2 or 3 axis.
Does the Application Require a 2-Axis or 3-Axis Control?
Is the customer looking for X & Y Contouring capability with a DRO Scale on the Z-Axis to monitor manual position? Does the customer want to be able to control Z-Axis position through the Control? Do you want to upgrade from a 2-Axis to a 3-Axis at a later date? Is the customer's job (or parts) requiring "true" 3-Axis capability?
What area of the shop will this machine be located?
Will the machine be in the tool room area or on the production floor? This will help qualify which control to suggest. Most tool room operators feel more comfortable using a conversational control.
Does the operator have any CNC experience?
Many first time buyers of this technology want operators with little or no CNC knowledge to be able to run (program) the control with a short learning curve. These machines and controls often remain dedicated to a particular operation or job area of the shop, especially the 2-Axis control applications.
How will you be programming the Control?
How will you be programming at the machine? Will you do some or all from a computer with CAD or CAM software? How will you send this program to the Control? (Floppy disk, RS-232, Ethernet or Network)
Will you want to edit the program at the machine?
This would pertain to more of a 3-Axis control question, especially if the program is generated from a CAD/CAM system and sent to the control as a "G-Code" program (not run through a post processor.)
Which Digital Readout is Right for Me?
The first thing in purchasing a Digital Readout System for your Mill, Lathe, Grinder, VTL, VBM or anything that moves on a sliding way is to think about what you need out of it. This is dependent on the application you may have. Do you need just Absolute positioning or do you require to have Absolute and Incremental positioning? Do you require multiple Datum points or just one? Do you need to have Calc assist for Bolt hole patterns whether Circular, Segmented Circle or an Array of holes? Does your application require multiple Tool length offsets? There are many features that may or not fit your application, so proper background work is required on your part.
Measure the machine's total travel; is there a space requirement to be aware of? Scales are not all the same, there are different cross section sizes available. Measurement of the machine travel is most simply done by moving the machine to one end of its travel. If the end of travel is dependent upon a limit switch, we recommend hand cranking the axis past the limit switch to the machine's dead stop. Make a mark with a marking pen on the slide to the carrier and move the machine to the other end. Measure the distance between the marks and now you have the total travel of the machine axis. Repeat this procedure for all the other axes considered for linear scales.
Now it's time to look at the length of cable needed for the job. Determine where and how the cable should be routed on the machine so that you don't short yourself. Make sure you have enough cable to get around the machine so that no hang-ups can occur such as pinching or snagging.
Need help with the installation? You can always call us at (414) 315-3436 for technical assistance. We offer installation services and would be more than happy to provide you with an installation quote. Staehle Precision has been installing Digital Readouts and Linear scales since 1988. Over the years, we have installed scales on all types of machines; we have to say we have done them all. From small knee mills and lathes, to large boring mills with 60 feet of X-axis travels, 120" diameter chuck by 60 feet between center engine lathes, grinders, EDM's, Bridge Cranes, Acetylene oxygen torch cutting machines, saws, layout machines and much more.