The importance of the correct programming of the CNC machines

CNC programming, short for Computer Numerical Control programming, is used by manufacturers to control a machine tool by creating program instructions for computers. It is highly involved in the manufacturing process, by improving its automation and the flexibility.

Why is it important to invest time and money in the correct programming of the CNC machines?

CNC machine is fully controlled by the computer software. In consequence, it is essential to implement a correct programming of the CNC machines, to regulate the process, as well as its final outcome. Unsuitable programming can lead to such issues, as:

  • tolerance issues,
  • poor surface finish,
  • premature tool breakage,

and many other possible problems. Only the correct programming of the CNC machine is able to ensure consistent result every time and allow for the whole process to go smoothly. As a result, investing time and money in making sure the CNC programming is suitable for given purpose can provide an advantage and prove beneficial for the user. There are three basic types of CNC programming available: manual CNC programming, CAM CNC programming, and Conversational or Instant CNC programming.

CNC programs

Manual CNC Programming

Manual is the oldest variety of the CNC programming. It is the most challenging, as it requires specific knowledge and experience from the programmers, who need to be able to visualize the program’s outcome. In consequence, the manual programming is currently used mostly for the simple tasks or, the opposite, the tasks that require highly specific design.

CAM CNC Programming

CAM CNC programming allows for the easy conversion of CAD design into the CNC programming language. It helps to solve many issues, that are present in manual programming, and is therefore perfect for operators who lack advanced mathematical skills.

Conversational or Instant CNC Programming

Conversational or instant CNC programming is the easiest type of programming for the beginners. Its user does not need to know G-coding in order to execute intended cuts. It allows entering the essential details in a simple language, and verifying tool movements before executing the program to ensure the accuracy of the design. This type of programming, however, is not suitable for complex paths.

What are the benefits of the correct programming?

Correct programming can save time and money to the user. It supervises the machine’s operation and communicates with the user through an interface Due to correct programming the machine is set to have desired speed and position of tools, as well as run in precise, repetitive and fully predictable cycles. Moreover, the right programming monitors and regulates the various behaviors of a corresponding machine, primarily speed, feed rate, and coordination. It also enables the machine tools to function with little involvement from human operators, which saves time, effort, and resources.

CNC programs

Key elements of the good CNC programs

CNC programs make it possible to conduct many processes. The key elements of the good CNC programs are their ability to:

  • convert instructions into machine tool motions, which allows the execution of the machining functions,
  • correct the errors in the machine tool motion during processing, which enables adjusting for the error and debugging of the problem, recalculation of axis positions, control adjustment to the tool speed and feed, calculation of the tool’s predicted lifespan, selection of the alternative tooling when necessary, and offset adjustment for tool radius and length,
  • introduce the convenient programming and operation features, such as support for more than just one unit system, use of a dedicated subroutine program, manual data input, graphic display tool path, large local storage system, and a choice of interpolation technique – circular, parabolic, or cubic.

The last feature of a good CNC program is its ability to assist during the system maintenance, by conducting such actions as alerting the imminent failure of a certain component, disconnecting the faulty component, identifying the reason for a problem, and facilitating the reparation process by correctly guiding the maintenance staff.