It can be incredibly exciting to either purchase or build a new CNC machine. You might have all kinds of amazing ideas running through your mind on what you want to create from scratch with this powerful machine. But it is not quite as easy – and safe – as it may sound to dive right in.
Here are 4 important tips for first-time CNC machinists to ensure you take full advantage of your CNC machine while also staying safe and approaching each process wisely:
- Buy high-quality cutters for your CNC machine.
Cutting materials is a cornerstone of the CNC machining process. So, it’s critical to obtain high-quality cutters that can easily and efficiently cut through any types of materials you plan to manipulate. Hardware stores often carry reliable cutters that work well for many CNC machines. It’s important to get a variety of dimensions, such as quarter-inch and half-inch sizes. Also, avoid getting the smaller types of cutters until you are completely comfortable with the cutting process. Keep in mind that some cutters may not hold up, so purchase several in case one breaks.
- Use a misting system.
A misting setup is particularly effective when building chips. If your CNC machine is not equipped with a flood coolant, you should buy a misting setup and coolant for the machine. Keep a keen eye on the cutter, and then place the mister’s nozzle in an appropriate position when you are building a chip. Errors may cause the chip to break, which is why being cautious is so important. Practice this method so you’re an expert at preventing the chip from coming apart. Once you’ve mastered this process, you should be good to go at cutting most materials.
- Educate yourself on MDI.
Understanding basic G codes is essential to understand how most CNC machines function – and what you need to do to make them work properly. First, try to run the machine with power feeds as if it is a manually operated machine. You should put DROs on the X, Y, and Z axes. Be sure to position the machine’s cutter at a safe and high distance. Then move through the X and Y axes. You should not try to move in the Z axis until you’re very comfortable moving within the X and Y axes to prevent breaking the cutter.
- Start off with soft materials.
If you are a novice at CNC machining, consider using softer materials first. You can use harder materials later on once you’ve mastered some of the cutting processes. For example, aluminum and brass are good materials to start with in the beginning. Test out cutting the materials so that you fully understand how to cut them. Once you advance, you can try cutting materials like milder steel, and then move on to stainless steel, alloys, wood, and other harder materials.