Irrespective of the automated cutting method that you plan to adopt, the steps for turning your idea into a finished product are all the same.
Step 1: Creating a Computerised 2-D or 3-D CAD (Computer Aided Design) Drawing
3-D or 3-dimensional CAD software is commonly used for modelling the parts. The model may be of an entire assembly or just a single piece. The same part can also be drawn using a 2-D or 2-dimensional CAD software. Both processes are suitable for the automated cutting process. The output that is got from this step is a 3-D model or a 2-D part file that is dimensionally scaled.
Step 2: Importing the 2-D Drawing or the 3-D Model into the CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) Software
The function of the CAM software is to essentially convert the 2-D drawing or 3-D model produced in Step 1 into machine readable cutting instructions. These instructions control the machine tools that are used in the manufacturing process. They also set the cutting parameters and the motion requirements.
In the early days, the CAM software generated the start, stop and motion commands in order to cut out the part on the basis of the 2-D CAD drawing. However, today, the CAM software is so advanced that it can automate the manual tasks, thereby increasing the efficiency and speed of the cutting process. The CAM software utilises the built-in measure for quality control. The part program is embedded with the process expertise and this helps to achieve high-quality cuts consistently and does not require too much of manual intervention of the operator. This also includes the part layout on the workpiece, which is called the nest. This ensures the optimisation of the cutting techniques and motion path.
Step 3: Generating a Cutting Program from the 3-D Model or 2-D Drawing
The required shape is then nested and translated into the numeric code for the machine for cutting. Then, a part program can be got as an output that can be saved.
The basic versions of the program instructs the cutting machine where to move, when to move and what speed to move at. Advanced versions have embedded information that can optimise every job. This embedded information automatically enables the CNC to control the pressure setting, flow rate, direction of the cut, cut speed, height control commands, etc.
Step 4: Loading the Program onto the CNC and Cutting
This is the final step in the process in which the CNC or the Computer Numerical Control is connected to the cutting system. This usually comprises a HMI or Human Machine Interface and a processing capability located internally. This unit provides the motion and other instructions to the drive motors of the table, the cutting tool and other related equipment.
The inputs are taken by the CNC software from the operator’s console, which reads the instructions from the program and implements it by sending the signals that control the complete cutting operation.
The CAM software undertakes the task of programming while the CNC software implements the actual part program. It coordinates the movement and the cutting system with accurate timing and reacts to the cutting environment feedback.
The main inputs to the CNC is the feedback from the cutting system, the part program, lifter, table and the operator console switches.
By following these four steps, you can see all your ideas take a finished form and you can be a proud owner of a state-of-the-art creative product.