Our friends at Onsrud.com posted an extremely informative article on reducing router costs.,We have summarized the article below but you can read the full article here: http://www.onsrud.com/plusdocs/Doc/index.html?model.code=TECH015.
The routing industry has had numerous technological advances in machines, materials and tooling aimed at increasing efficiency of production. Machines have more than tripled their rapid traverse rates and at the same time managed to increase their rigidity through advancements such as ceramic bearings and HSK tool holders. Materials have increased their resistance to crazing, scratching, and breakage while being offered in more colors, sizes and composite formulations, and new tooling technology has brought increased surface finishes, longer tool life etc. While these improvements have undeniably helped increase the state of routing as a whole, the unfortunate truth is that most application troubles are still a result of basic and fundamental problems. As core machine problems, the solutions haven’t changed over the years so for that reason it is always a good idea to occasionally get back to the basics and review what makes for a successful CNC routing operation.
We will be going over the four core concepts that lead to a successful and profitable routing operation.
Through reviewing the fundamentals involved with each of these aspects of the routing operation before the job begins, you can find opportunities to produce better parts at a lower cost.
There are numerous resources for machining information available and they should be utilized as early as possible to help you the customer specify the best material grade for all aspects of your design, manufacture and final use of the product. Whether published or residing in the experience of a seasoned applications engineer, router manufacturers typically have a wealth of knowledge, and it is always a good idea to contact your machine manufacturer for some front advice on different material styles (email [email protected] for material advice or to schedule a diagnostic test). Tooling companies can also provide very timely information on some of the newer materials as well as the old standbys. Lastly, material manufacturers can be a good resource when it comes to pre-job material selection.
Rigidity applies both to the machine itself and to the fixturing of the components to be cut. A router that is poorly maintained will never be capable of achieving the results of even the oldest machine that has been properly kept up. Properly lubricated and maintained machine slides and drive systems are essential to maintaining optimum feed rates and regular preventative maintenance for your CNC Routers is critical to allow for long term operation. While machine rigidity is critical to consistent performance, fixturing is equally important to individual performance per part. Surface finish for metals and plastics is typically measured in millionths of an inch, meaning that even a .001” of a part movement is 50 times the magnitude of what is generally considered a good surface finish. With such a low margin of error, it is essential that everything possible be done to allow the machine and cutting tool a chance to produce optimum finishes.
The thousands of tools available may make it seem like a difficult parameter to optimize, however the opposite is true. The large selection of available tooling allows for a very high level of specialization. The best methods for specifying tooling for a particular job is either through published resources (such as vendor catalogs) or through communicating through vendor representatives (email our tooling expert Mary, for assistance on any questions related to router tooling or our router products at http://cncrouterstore.ca/).
Once material, machine rigidity, fixturing, and tooling have all been selected for best operating practices, the final step is programming the part path. There is a tremendous amount of material published concerning this process, but by just focusing on the basics, a good probability of success can be assumed. Some general rules of thumb for routing are as follows.
Cut direction matters: The best method for determination of cut direction is basic trial and error. As a starting point, larger tool diameters typically work better in a conventional cut presentation, and smaller diameters are work piece specific.
Chipload: Chipload is the size of the chip being formed. Router bits work best at a very specific chip load and can perform quite poorly even a few .001 inch from the optimum value.
Cutter Entry: Router bits that plunge directly into the work piece can wrap long chips, deform part edges, or melt the surrounding surface. Always ramp or helically plunge into a scrap area and rout to the part edge to prevent these problems.
Scrap: Try to minimize the amount of unsecured scrap and thin wall scrap that is present. Poor scrap control can lead to part ejection, vibration, and broken cutters.
A thorough review of each of these fundamental areas discussed above can help eliminate many of the problems that arise in every day routing. For any questions related to router preventative maintenance or to book a diagnostic test email Paul at [email protected], and for tooling purchases and inquires email Mary at [email protected].