What can we expect from CNC in the near future? As 2019 is now gone (I know – we can’t believe it either) we are compelled to consider what trends 2020 might have in store for the CNC machining world. The development of new green, medical and robotic technologies has certainly been a worthy capacity challenge for machinists globally, with smaller batch machining and long-term professional relationships becoming less commonplace. This continuous worldwide growth in product demand has forced another wave of development in technology, leaving CNC at the apex of advancement and today we’re going to take a peek into the future and see what’s in store!
Machines Training Your Workforce?!
We have touched briefly on the introduction of troubleshooting software and its benefits – the software helps to identify any potential errors or areas which could be improved upon. Not only this, but some software can also include visual aids to help operators carry out troubleshooting and remedy the issue at hand with the help of this informative software.
This integration of mistake-mitigating software works hand in hand with the development in the size of the controller screens – the larger they become, the more that can be done with them and now they are (becoming) the dominant interface for workers. This intelligent software is taking full advantage of this by introducing a range of images and videos which can help guide the workforce and minimise user error, whilst teaching optimal techniques to fix current problems and avoid future ones.
CAM Software Advancements
CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software is a huge part of CNC machining, integrating CAD (Computer Aided Design) models into a virtual system. This software works the optimal setup and sequence for the machine to take in order to minimise the risk of error or sub-optimal parts. This simulation software can massively reduce time output as well as wear on the machines. Win-win!
One of the new features that CAM software has incorporated as a standard is collision detection. This once-expensive element is becoming far more mainstream as its benefits come to light. As more axes are introduced and the machines become more complex, there is naturally more room for error and collision, which is where this software comes in. This means that someone who is newer to CNC machining who may not yet have developed the experience to anticipate such collisions can work worry-free by letting the software calculate this for the machine instead. Not only does this save time in training and experience but it also helps reduce material waste or machine wear that comes with undetected collisions.
More Axes, Less Cost
In addition to technological advancements such as software development, another focus for 2020 is physical progress in terms of the axes themselves. To put it simply – the more axes, the less production time, usually. This is because the versatility of machines with more axes demands less set-up time. Now if you the accumulation of this time saving per project – imagine how many hours will be saved on all those setups.
Better Tools Fixtures
As well as the development of axes, the opportunity for tool production is endless, with tools becoming more durable and precise, the need to reorder tools after damage is hugely minimised, which means more time saved on waiting for replacement tools. The availability and inventories on websites are also becoming faster and easier to use, saving yet more time.
As well as durability, there has been a rise in more versatile fixtures. Universal vacuum fixtures serve a range of purposes such as holding parts in place and applying negative pressure around a part through the use of O-rings or gaskets.
While machines have long been viewed as simply a tool to achieve an end result, they are becoming so much more than that. The upgrades in individual tools and features, as well as performance optimising software, means that now CNC machines are becoming more independent than ever. Rather than solely being an operational machine that can achieve better results than manual operation, the aforementioned software can help to spot a problem before an operator and save heaps of time in setups and production. In this ever-developing technological world, we’re looking forward to seeing what else 2020 has up its sleeve.