Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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CNC TECH TALK MMS SEPTEMBER 2018 36 Processes and Programming Making CNC-Related Decisions MIKE LYNCH | COLUMNIST The diversity and similarity of components, manufacturing processes and machine tools must be considered to optimize your production process. The number of different component workpieces your company produces on its CNC machines is probably sizable. For companies that produce products, this may be a finite and relatively stable number—the total of machined components com- prising the company's products. This number only changes when new products are added or old ones become obsolete. On the other hand, most com- panies that produce workpieces or tooling must regularly produce new and different components as new orders come. In this case, the number of components being produced increases daily. There are three closely related diversities that complicate your company's CNC environment: • Component/workpiece diversity, which is determined by the number and complexity of products your company provides. • Manufacturing process diversity, which is determined by diversity among components. • Machine tool diversity, which is determined by diversity of manufacturing processes. Companies that produce products must be able to produce or procure all components compris- ing their products. The greater the component diversity, the greater the number of required manufacturing processes. Processes may require many kinds of CNC machines, including metalcut- ting, sheet-metal fabrication, electrical discharge, grinding and additive manufacturing machines. To complicate matters, many product-producing companies have support departments, like tool rooms to provide production tooling and/or R&D to create prototypes, that use CNC machine tools. Although these companies tend to have the most diverse manufacturing and CNC environments, many produce similar products in different sizes or degrees of functionality. Consider a company that produces pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders: All components of the same kind (like cylinders, sleeves, pistons or end caps) have the same basic function. What changes most among them is their size. For this reason, most companies that produce products have at least some components that fall into part families. Companies that produce workpieces usually have great diversity in the range of components being produced because they provide workpieces for a variety of product-produc- ing customers. While this com- plicates the CNC environment, many job shops focus on just a limited number of different manufacturing processes. They may, for example, specialize in metalcutting processes and not sheet-metal fabrication or EDM processes. Companies that produce tooling tend to special- ize in a limited number of tooling types. A mold shop, for instance, produces molds—and only molds of the same type (injection, vacuum, etc.). A typical mold shop would not produce other types of tooling, like dies, fixtures or gages. Also, many of the company's individual components will fall into part families. Component diversity and, in turn, process diver- sity, is directly related to the kind of tooling being produced. A die shop, for instance, will need to produce or procure the components comprising a die set. CNC-related processes will likely include metalcutting, wire EDM and grinding processes. Though you should strive for consistency, the more diverse your CNC environment, the more The more diverse your CNC environment, the more difficult it is to make decisions that are universally appropriate.

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