[Reload] New CNC Technology – Is It For You?
[Our “Reload” blog series spotlights some of the all-time most popular posts on the Okuma America website. Here Rick Kimmins ponders the fate of those trusty old “workhorse” machines - are they ready for pasture?]
Owners of legacy CNC machines (those being 10 years or older) often value the many years of service they’ve derived from their investment. Legacy machines can be “workhorse” products with powerful spindles, drives and construction. However, their performance is likely lacking compared to what can be achieved with today’s CNC technology advances.
Newer technology can deliver gains in productivity and profitability that quickly add up to justify a new investment. You might be surprised to learn that hard-earned dollars are slipping right though your fingers and can be easily retrieved.
For a couple of thought-starters, consider these two major advances in CNC technology:
1. CNC Controls Streamline Processes
With the introduction of the first open architecture CNC control in 2004, Okuma has made significant advances in linking the machine tool control to everyday office duties, along with tracking and selection of parts (to name just a few). Okuma’s OSP control allows connectivity to everyday personal computer functions such as network drives, software and communication. With a simple Ethernet cable the CNC control can be seamlessly integrated with routine tasks. Given that the control incorporates an industrial PC within its design, off-the-shelf components such as wireless keyboards, a barcode scanner and other USB components can be tied into machine control and processes. Here are just a couple examples. Part changeover can be simplified and streamlined by placing electronic documents on a network drive accessible from the CNC control. Documents can be barcoded on a work order and this barcode can be scanned to select the program, process sheets and QC records, etc. The possibilities are endless, as even custom touchscreen applications can be performed through an Application Program Interface (API).
RELATED: There’s a great example of adopting new CNC technology – and taking advantage of our open architecture control – in the story of an Amish machine shop, Get On With It or Get Out of It
2. Multitasking CNC Machines Save Space While Improving Part Quality
In the past 10 years, some of the greatest advances in CNC machine tool technology have been in the area of multitasking, which allows the user to perform multiple operations with one machine tool. These machines, on average, have 7-axes to perform multi-process part machining. Multitasking CNC machines (such as Okuma’s MULTUS U and MULTUS B series) save valuable floor space and can increase part production/throughput and even part quality. These flexible machines can replace either a stand-alone CNC lathe or a machining center. Multitasking lathes now have spindles (instead of the common turret disc), and typically have an average of 30 horsepower thereby performing high-powered milling cuts, turning, as well as intricate surface profiling. One aerospace company commented that by performing more milling/drilling features on their multitasking lathe part accuracy was improved compared to clamping the part in a fixture within a machining center. Some machining centers now even have the ability to perform turning operations to provide the same quality machined results as seen from a CNC lathe. Multitasking can be a buzzword to be sure, but for good reason. It can give you the extra edge toward saving valuable workspace and producing high quality components.
These two items alone may give you the edge over your competition. Need help crunching the numbers to see what’s possible for you? Contact us, or one of our distributors - or comment below - and we’ll help you compare your current productivity to what you can achieve with new CNC technology.
Rick Kimmins is Inside Sales Specialist, Okuma America Corporation