Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Production Machining

Production Machining vs economic cycles

Where are we on the economic cycle graph? This question is asked by many because of long lasting recovery after banking crisis 2008 do not convince many that it is for real.

Lets summarize economic cycle phrases:Typically, each business cycle has four phases that describe how the economy is doing compared with its long-term movement.

Phase 1, Early Recovery. The economy is improving from the last recession. Sales and profits may be still low, but are improving, and the labor market is also improving. Output and production levels are stabilizing or possibly increasing.
Phase 2, Late Recovery. The economy is operating above its long-term trend. Generally, businesses and consumers are doing well and are optimistic about the economy. Output and production are high. Consumers of goods and services may see prices begin to increase more than usual. Unemployment is low and production is booming. The top of this phase is known as the “peak” of the economic cycle.
Phase 3, Early Recession. The recession begins as production slows down. The rate of consumption begins to decline, and unemployment begins to rise. Very often stock market is crushing.

Phase 4, Late Recession. The economy is in a downturn with contracting business volumes and profit. Production is declining, businesses go bankrupt. The bottom of this phase is known as the “trough” of the cycle. 
And if we have a look at production machining Index it is clear in my opinion that we are somewhere between early and late recovery. FED monetary policy of keeping rates low and buying government securities made the present cycle unlike others but still it looks that economy and production have plenty space to grow. Specially recent break out in production machining charts is indication that we may see another leg up. The situation of manufacturers improved significantly after Trump's victory. Small production machining job shops as AC Manufacturing see pick up in orders. Manufacturing activity is yet to rise dramatically before we can call it late recovery.
But also keep in mind that because economic data is reported on a delay, we won’t have proof that we have entered a new cycle until after the new data emerge.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Android apps for 5 axis cnc machine shop: part 1

5 axis cnc machine shops: Some android useful apps

I recently talked to AC Manufacturing,  cnc machine shop located in Bay Area and they advised me to look into many different apps for android smartfon. Nowadays cnc machinists more and more use these apps in their daily machining jobs.
Here is the review:

1. CAM View 3D
This is a good 3D CAM data file viewer. It supports the most popular CAM / CNC / NC data file formats including gcode ( g-code ) and apt file. it also supports many popular CAD data formats including stl, dxf, etc. Even if you are using CAD or 3D geometry modeling system which doesn't directly generate stl file, it is very likely you can use your 3D software to export in stl format. With help of this app, you can take your 3D files with you no matter where you are, at home or traveling abroad, and view them with your phone (or tablet) in any way you want.

The app is not just a 3D data file viewer. It is also a file organizer. You can put project files in different sub folder so that you can easily find them. The app provides you file sorting features so that you can find your model quickly. You can sort by file name or file creation time. 

The app is a great tool for you if your business is related to CNC Machining (2 Axis, 2.5 D, 3 Axis, 4/5 Axis, Milling, Lathe, wire EDM, Gas Welding, Foundry, Sheet Metal), PLM, CIM, DNC, FMS, ICAM, MPM, CNC Routing and Engraving, Rapid Prototyping, Digital Wood Work, Surface Grinder, 3D Art Carving, 3D Clip Art, Ice Sculpting, Metal Cutting, Glass Sculpting, 3D Printing, Engraving, 3D Scaning, Sign Making, Solid FreeForm Fabrication, or even Circuit Board Manufacturing.

2. CNC Troubleshooting Fanuc Axis

This is the go to app to troubleshoot issues in your CNC Machines, PLC or Robots with FANUC Drives. Using this knowledge base, even a person with minimal CNC troubleshooting experience can troubleshoot on his own without waiting for a service engineer. 
The Step by step flowcharts included in this app will walk you through to troubleshoot your problem. All you have to do is answer YES or NO. If you don’t know the answer, you have help in the form text that can help you answer the question. The idea is to narrow it down to one or two faulty parts. Sometimes buying two parts is cheaper and faster than getting a CNC engineer to visit your site. 
We have alarm and symptom approaches to troubleshooting. We also have procedures on maintenance and safety. The next versions will have pictures and Videos. More info here.

3. Learn CNC programming
Learning CNC is can be easy. Only that, mastering takes more time.
To start with, being good at mathematics (especially Coordinate Geometry) is enough for coding. The G codes and M codes can be found in internet easily. You dont need to by-heart them. Just start coding by looking at the codes. The more you practice, the easier it will be.
the app contains
1. Definition statements. They contains program number, defining the origin, selecting tool etc.,
2. Machining statements. Based on the coordinates, you move the tool using commands like G 0, G01, G02, G03…
3. Closing statements to tell the machine that the program is ended, bringing the tool and workpiece back to origin, stopping coolant…
The defining and closing statements will be same for most of the programs. So master the machining statements first.
First take simple shapes. For example consider the following: We will try to write the code 
Learning CNC programming is one thing, learning MACHINING is another beast.
First you can learn how to make the machine move the way you want by using G codes (move in a straight line, make a circle, slower, faster, etc). 
The theory is really simple, but it can get complicated when calculating intersections of curves and lines, or when tons of code are required.  More info here. 

4. Arduino CNC Controller
This APP is a controller to create a CNC Mill (Computer Numerical Control).

You can create your own CNC Machine, using a Android device tablet/mobile/PC with Android-x86, and connect it to Arduino Mega 2560 R3 board via USB Port. Arduino Mega control 3 stepper motors that move a manual mill, and finally you obtain an CNC Miachine. Theoretically you can also use Android TV Box, but must include library package USB HOST and 2 devices I've tested Android TV Box with Android version 4.0 and 4.2.2 manufacturers not included.

The Android device must have OTG USB Host port to connect to "Arduino Mega 2560 R3", and you need a USB OTG cable. This APP is designed for a low cost tablet with Android 4.0 and must have a minimum resolution of 800x480 pixels. Works on tablets only 1 core, but really if the tablet is faster mill moving faster, so it is recommended that have 4 cores. More info.

5. Audiobook - CNC

A Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) 5 axis machines may have more than one motion type that it uses, but there are three most common motion types that are easy to remember. These are the Rapid Motion, the Straight Line Motion, and the Circular Motion. 

All of these motion types may seem different but they share two things in common, which would be that they are all modal and the endpoint of each motion is specified in motion command. By being modal it means that the motion type would be in effect until changed otherwise. 
In this audio book you read about these topics:
01 - 3 Basic Motion Types in a CNC Machine
02 - CAM: A Vital Component of CNC
03 - CNC Machine Setup and Operation
04 - CNC Programming Tips the Professional Way
05 - Cycle Time Reduction Principles for CNC Machining Equipment
06 - Data Transfer Methods of CNC
07 - How CNC Helps Companies
08 - How To Effectively Consider CNC
09 - In Depth Discussion In Planning CNC Programs
10 - Industries That Constantly Define CNC Precision
More info

6. FS Wizard Machinist Calculator
CNC Milling and Turning Speed and Feed Calculator (Wizard)
Absolutely the best CNC machinist speed and feed app around.
Calculate Speeds and Feeds simply by choosing your work and tool material.
No need to know any numbers.

FSWizard will automatically use recommended cutting speed and chipload for machining with a variety of indexed and solid endmills, drills, taps etc.
Check our HSMAdvisor+FSWizard PRO bundle: http://hsmadvisor.com/index.php?page=FSWizard_H
★ Made for CNC Machinists by a CNC Machinist Zero_Divide - the creator of a popular line of Machine Shop Productivity apps. ★

Improve machining productivity and optimize cutter life.
Calulate Chip Thinning and HSM - High Speed Machining.

Find out the optimum machining depth of cut and width of cut parameters.
More info.

Next part will be about iPhone apps.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

CNC machining industry entering new era? Metalworking index at highest level since 2011!

The Gardner Business Index indicates weather metalworking industry is in expansion or contraction trend.
With a latest reading of 55.7, the  Index show that  manufacturing of durable goods went up at an accelerating rate for the fourth month in a row. In February month durable goods manufacturing grew at its fastest rate since March 2014 and second fastest rate since March 2012.
The new orders index increased for fourth month in a row, growing at its fastest rate since March 2014. The production index dipped slightly from last month, but the index remained above 60 indicating robust growth.  Material prices increased at an accelerating rate for the fourth month in a row. 

Stock market at new record highs.
If you look at a stock market which is considered a leading indicator you see sharp move up since Donald Trump was elected. Does it mean we entered new Trump era? If the President will be able to deliver his promises, cut regulation and taxes, create new jobs than metalworking and machining industries will be big beneficiaries. Booming economy can create new demand for cnc machined parts and prototypes. 

The fastest growing industries were HVAC, industrial motors/hydraulics/mechanical components, primary metals, metalcutting job shops, machinery/equipment, petrochemical processors, forming/fabricating (non-auto), aerospace, pumps/valves/plumbing products, plastics/rubber products, automotive, custom processors, medical, and power generation.

Vanguard Industrials ETF that seeks to track the performance of a benchmark index that measures the investment return of stocks in the industrial sector recently reached new high and companies like Timken Steel are rocketing to new records.

For the fourth month in a row, cnc precision machining grew at the fastest rate. Moldmaking grew at an accelerating rate for the fourth month in a row. Metalworking grew at its fastest rate since the survey expanded in December 2011.  Plastics expanded at a robust rate for the second month. In the past years machining has witnessed an increasing demand for faster cutting, better finishes and longer tool life, all while machining more demanding materials. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tips to improve and grow your 5 axis CNC machining business

5 Axis precision CNC machining start up tips:

Starting up or growing a 5 axis cnc machine shop can be extremely challenging nowadays and involves making numerous important decisions regarding financing, location, choosing the right cnc machines and putting all things together. Especially if you  enter a crowded market with large, well-established competitors already in place. Small CNC machine shops face hurdles similar to those of other small businesses, and, like their non-industrial counterparts, have the same potential for securing contracts and growing within the cnc machining industry despite problems and all obstacles.

The most important advises for cnc machinists in my opinion:
Target your segment  and a niche of  cnc marketplace: It is  a good practice to focus on clients that will purchase your products at the best volume rate. Becoming an expert in machining medical components and devices or working with exotic materials such as kovar, hastelloy, molybdenum, titanium, plastics  are examples of niches in  cnc manufacturing that can help you easily target some of the most valuable customers and focus on them. Pay attention to what you do best and always keep improving. It simplifies your marketing efforts. This again makes decisions easier and keeps you on-task and more efficient. By keeping it simple you can focus all your efforts into being the best at what you do in cnc machining. I believe that it is always better to be the very best at one thing, rather than mediocre at a dozen.

Have a clear target! If your cnc shop wants to specialize in manufacturing automotive parts with a diameter under five inches, try to establish relationships with companies that purchase this product at a rate favorable to your production cycle and turnover. Having a clear target will help you easily decide on all other aspects of your business – machines, man-power, supporting technology, marketing, etc. If your target industries require it, remember about obtaining all the needed certifications, so you can meet the standards of even the most exigent of customers. It would be difficult to obtain ISO 9001 or 2008 at the beginning but if you seriously think about growing your cnc machining business this will be necessary step in the future

Remember about social media!
Most all fashioned cnc machine shops completely ignore Facebook or Twitter. They think that having sophisticated 5 axis cnc machines, experience and years of practice is everything. Well it was that way before but now you can turn social media into your powerful ally and use it. This is your advantage to set up profiles, engage in internet activity posting pictures comments and movies on youtube.  Emerging technologies such as the internet and social networking can help leverage your cnc shop visibility in both search engines and online helping reach people near and far. Your website and social media profiles can become your virtual salesmen helping you to bring new customers and you pay nothing for it!

Have good 5 axis cnc equipment.
I believe you can still start small and make it work with basics a cnc machine. The key is to clearly define your business, have a single purpose, and not try to be everything to everyone. But if you want to find your niche in 5 axis precision machining you have to focuse on it and think outside the box. If you made some money, got your clients, do not hesitate to abandon your old machines and switch to more advanced 5 axis machining. You can study what more experienced cnc machinists do, specially nowadays when many of cnc shops post their videos and describes in detail their jobs. Do not hesitate to follow the best in 5 axis cnc machining industry!

This principle is probably universal: For a cnc job shop to thrive, it needs to be more than a job shop to at least a portion of its customers.