Machine buyers often research the market thoroughly before making a capital investment while looking for key characteristics in a product that will give their business the greatest rate of return. Unfortunately, some people look through specifications that they may not completely understand, or worse, may be skewed by the manufacturer.
In CNC machine purchases, one of the major factors that attract buyers is the speed of the machine. As businesses become more automated or upgrade their production, throughput capabilities will be increased. CNC machine manufacturers advertise high cutting speeds and/or traverse (slew) speeds, but as a buyer, it is very important to understand the difference between these two rates.
The cutting speed represents the tool cutting from the beginning to end of each cut, while the material and tool are touching. Alternatively, the traverse speed is the rate at which the gantry and spindle moves in between cuts. Rapid transverse is the fastest possible movement of the machine’s motion control. Furthermore, it is advantageous for a machine to have a highest traverse speed possible, as high traverse speeds can save time in the job especially on larger tables.
While comparing cut speeds, it is important to consider all factors involved (material, tooling, and quality required) to determine the actual cutting speed for the job. Each material has an optimal cutting speed that will achieve the best result. Tooling choices require you to alter the cutting speed as well to obtain your desired finish. For example, Aluminum requires a lower cutting speed than Plastics with a high-speed tool, but when a Carbide tool is used both materials can be cut at higher rates. If you are trying to lower production time, it is best to look for the highest traverse speed as this speed is the same no matter what material or tools are used for the job.
In conclusion, all machine buyers should familiarize themselves with cutting and traverse speeds of a CNC machine, and keep in mind that higher ‘traverse speeds’ can save time while running your jobs and ultimately save your company money in the long-run.